Donald Trump allies fighting to be press secretary and mouthpiece for the president-elect

The role of press secretary is key - that person will be the mouthpiece of the government and enable the press direct access to the president

Rachael Revesz
New York
Wednesday 14 December 2016 02:17
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Ms Pierson made many gaffes as a contracted commentator on CNN
Ms Pierson made many gaffes as a contracted commentator on CNN

Donald Trump allies are engaged in a bitter battle to be US press secretary, the mouthpiece for the president.

Whoever wins the appointment will give a strong signal as to how the president-elect will interact with the press, and how transparent his government is willing to be.

Katrina Pierson, a frequent CNN commentator and who has an open contempt for the mainstream media, gave her pitch to Mr Trump to work for the White House.

"I'm at Trump Tower because I work here," Ms Pierson said in an email to CNN. "I'm a senior advisor for the Trump Transition team. Our meetings are confidential."

Her appearances on the news broadcaster have resulted in many gaffes, including blaming president Barack Obama for the 2004 death of soldier captain Humayan Khan - his death happened five years before Mr Obama became president.

She also incorrectly said that "tens of thousands" of troops had died in Iraq since 2004, and that president Obama had invaded Afghanistan, when it was under George W Bush.

Daily Mail US political journalist David Martosko was also spotted at Trump Tower on Tuesday. He declined to comment to reporters about his possible appointment.

Mr Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway said she "politely declined" the role of press secretary, although there has been no confirmation from the president-elect’s team that she was offered it.

Donald Trump is more 'ignorant of fact' than Richard Nixon, says Watergate reporter

The role could go to Sean Spicer, the chief strategist of the Republican National Committee, or Jason Miller, Mr Trump’s director of communications.

Mr Trump is not legally required to give regular press briefings and has not held a press conference since July.

He has also gone for family dinners without alerting the press pool at Trump Tower - two moves which are highly unusual for incoming presidents.

Donald Trump's controversial cabinet

His distaste for the media has been loud and clear during the campaign. He has pointed out individual reporters at the main broadcasters for "lying", and has repeatedly accused the New York Times of incorrect and biased reporting.

So-called news outlets that Mr Trump has not criticised as loudly include right-wing Fox News, white supremacist platform Breitbart, and an outlet of conspiracy theories called Infowars.

While his team have held regular phone calls with the press and answered a few questions, journalists have not had direct access to Mr Trump for months - and not since the election - with only hints of his thoughts via his twitter account and his brief comments outside the elevator at Trump Tower.

Mr Trump has held a long series of meetings with politicians, opponents, sports stars, journalists and entertainers, including Kanye West, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio and former football player Jim Brown.

He said he was so busy filling out his cabinet that he has delayed his first press conference since July, originally scheduled for 16 December, which would have seen him outline his plans on how he would hand over his business interests to his children and avoid potential conflicts of interest.

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