Someone is going to get fired. Flynn—who was set up as a fall guy only a week into Trump’s term—not only (potentially unlawfully) discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador three weeks before Trump’s inauguration, but also apparently lied to Vice President Mike Pence about it, damaging the administration’s congressional GOP whisperer’s credibility in the process. Trump’s buddy Chris Ruddy described Priebus, the White House chief of staff, as being “in way over his head”—he’s being blamed for the disorganization and incompetence that has defined the first weeks of the Trump White House and rumors are swirling that Kellyanne Conway wants his job. Spicer has been on thin ice for weeks—Trump hates his suits and his demeanor and that a woman plays him on SNL. (On Sunday, Spicer tried to keep his job by grooming Charlton Heston disciple Stephen Miller.) There are also rumors that a larger staff shakeup is in the works.
Ruddy told Axios presented by Blackwater that Trump’s inexperience is the problem: “Trump is trying to figure out who he should trust. This is totally new for him, so he’s trying to figure out who the strong ones are and who the weak ones are.” An unnamed source said that the problem was that Trump doesn’t trust people who aren’t rich: “These people are insecure because Trump does not respect them. He does not because they have not made any money. He respects [Steve] Bannon and Gary Cohn because they are financially successful.”
One possibility is that Trump is just doing what he’s always done as a businessman. Ironically, he rarely fired people who worked for him. “I have never heard him say the words ‘You’re fired’ to anyone,” Billy Procida, who worked for Trump in the 1990s, told Politico. “He really doesn’t fire people. He makes it known he doesn’t want you there, and you move on.” The leaks could be of way doing just that.
But any reality television viewer should recognize these machinations—pitting people against each other, loudly suggesting that people are on thin ice, and generally playing up the drama—from his work on The Apprentice and The Celebrity Apprentice. Similar to his Bachelor-esque rollout of Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s team is leaking to raise the stakes, creating high drama that engages observers and signals to the contestants (in this case people with high-level security clearances) that they better shape up or ship out. Trump still hasn’t figured out the day-to-day aesthetics of being a world leader, but he sure knows how to generate TV ratings. The White House is his reality TV show now, and Trump is treating Flynn, Spicer, and Priebus like they’re Gene Simmons, Omarosa, and Jennie Finch.