President Donald Trump has barely been in office for six months and already he's seen three communications directors come and go – Mike Dubke, Sean Spicer (who handled its duties when the post was vacant) and Anthony Scaramucci.
And now sources inside the White House are telling Axios that Senior Policy Adviser Stephen Miller is in the running for the communications director job after his on-camera thrashings of CNN’s Jim Acosta and the NYT’s Glenn Thrush elicited widespread praise from conservatives last week and reportedly made an impression on the president.
To be sure, the Trump administration is still “in the name-gathering process” and Miller isn’t even the top contender for the job. Miller faces some opposition, including from members of the Republican establishment, who believe he’s “unpersuasive.” But the fact that he made Acosta look like a “jacka**” in front of the whole country has helped him in Trump’s estimation.
Miller’s experience working with the media began during his stint as an aide to then-Senator Jeff Sessions. At the time, he “was effectively an adjunct of the Breitbart team,” according to Axios. During his tenure in the White House, he’s already helped shape the administration’s communications strategy by working on some of Trump’s biggest speeches, including the “American Carnage” inaugural address, which he co-wrote with Steve Bannon.
Miller also has a reputation for “bugging reporters at all hours with his story pitches, and seemingly had a direct line to Matt Drudge. The running joke was that the Sessions' office had a permanent lease on at least one of the prized top-left Drudge links.”
As Axios notes, the quality that Trump values most is an aide's ability to make him look good on television – particularly if they can do it at the expense of a CNN or NYT reporter, like Miller did.
Even Thrush admits that Miller is obviously qualified.
Been rumored forever. This makes all the sense in the world. https://t.co/HjvKGelYvX
— Glenn Thrush (@GlennThrush) August 5, 2017
But the most important question, which Axios doesn’t address, is what’s the relationship like between Miller and Trump’s new Chief of Staff John Kelly, who was widely credited with ousting Scaramucci from the communications director post last month after he had held the job for only 10 days. Miller’s knack for currying favor with the Jared and Ivanka faction in the West Wing has helped him establish a reputation as someone who’s widely liked and respected in the administration, particularly for his “rainman” like ability to recall immigration statistics.
Still, does he have the "General's" respect? His chances of lasting in the job more than just a few weeks depend on it.