White House Communications Director
|White House Communications Director|
|Executive Office of the President|
White House Office
|Reports to||White House Chief of Staff|
|Appointer||President of the United States|
|Formation||1969 (White House Office)|
1974 (White House Office of the Press Secretary)
|First holder||Herbert G. Klein|
The White House communications director or White House director of communications, also known officially as Assistant to the President for Communications, is part of the senior staff of the president of the United States. The officeholder is responsible for developing and promoting the agenda of the president and leading its media campaign.
The director, along with their staff, works on major political speeches such as the inaugural address and the State of the Union Address. The communications director, who is appointed by and serves at the pleasure of the president, without the need for United States Senate confirmation, is usually given an office in the West Wing of the White House.
The White House Office of Communications was established by Herbert G. Klein in January 1969 during the Nixon administration. It was separate from the Office of the Press Secretary from 1969 to 1974.
Role and responsibilities
Historically, the position of White House communications director is given to a senior public relations staff member of the candidate's campaign staff. Often this is either the deputy campaign manager or the campaign communications director. The communications director works closely with the White House press secretary, who is typically a co-worker in the president's campaign.
As the president's voice and vision must be understood, the communications director ensures that all aspects of communications are covered to ensure that the administration's message has been delivered clearly and successfully. A communications strategy must be devised to promote the president's agenda throughout all media outlets. This can include, but certainly is not limited to, the State of the Union address, televised press conferences, statements to the press, and radio addresses. The communications office also works closely with cabinet-level departments and other executive agencies in order to create a coherent strategy, through which the president's message can be disseminated.
With the growing importance of the internet and new media in terms of presidential communication, the communications office has branched out to utilize the Internet, and more specifically social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, in order to reach out and convey the president's vision to a larger percentage of the public.
- Assistant to the President and White House Communications Director: Kate Bedingfield
- Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of Communications: Pili Tobar
- Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of Communications: Kate Berner
- Assistant to the President and White House Press Secretary: Jen Psaki
- Deputy Assistant to the President and Principal Deputy Press Secretary: Karine Jean-Pierre
- Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Press Secretary: Chris Meagher
- Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Press Secretary: Andrew Bates
- Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Digital Strategy: Rob Flaherty
|Officeholder||Start date||End date||Term duration||President|
|Herb Klein||January 20, 1969||July 1, 1973||4 years, 162 days||Richard Nixon|
|Ken Clawson||January 30, 1974||August 9, 1974||191 days|
|August 9, 1974||November 4, 1974||87 days||Gerald Ford|
|Jerry Warren||November 4, 1974||August 15, 1975||284 days|
|Margita White||August 15, 1975||July 12, 1976||332 days|
|David Gergen||July 12, 1976||January 20, 1977||192 days|
|Gerald Rafshoon||July 1, 1978||August 14, 1979||1 year, 44 days||Jimmy Carter|
|Frank Ursomarso||February 23, 1981||June 17, 1981||114 days||Ronald Reagan|
|David Gergen||June 17, 1981||January 15, 1984||2 years, 212 days|
|Michael A. McManus Jr.||January 15, 1984||February 6, 1985||1 year, 22 days|
|Pat Buchanan||February 6, 1985||March 1, 1987||2 years, 23 days|
|Jack Koehler||March 1, 1987||March 13, 1987||11 days|
|Tom Griscom||April 2, 1987||July 1, 1988||1 year, 90 days|
|Mari Maseng||July 1, 1988||January 20, 1989||203 days|
|David Demarest||January 20, 1989||August 23, 1992||3 years, 216 days||George H. W. Bush|
|Margaret Tutwiler||August 23, 1992||January 20, 1993||150 days|
|George Stephanopoulos||January 20, 1993||June 7, 1993||138 days||Bill Clinton|
|Mark Gearan||June 7, 1993||August 14, 1995||2 years, 68 days|
|Don Baer||August 14, 1995||July 31, 1997||1 year, 351 days|
|Ann Lewis||July 31, 1997||March 10, 1999||1 year, 222 days|
|Loretta Ucelli||March 10, 1999||January 20, 2001||1 year, 316 days|
|Karen Hughes||January 20, 2001||October 2, 2001||255 days||George W. Bush|
|Dan Bartlett||October 2, 2001||January 5, 2005||3 years, 95 days|
|Nicolle Wallace||January 5, 2005||July 24, 2006||1 year, 200 days|
|Kevin Sullivan||July 24, 2006||January 20, 2009||2 years, 180 days|
|Ellen Moran||January 20, 2009||April 21, 2009||91 days||Barack Obama|
|Anita Dunn (acting)||April 21, 2009||November 30, 2009||223 days|
|Dan Pfeiffer||November 30, 2009||January 25, 2013||3 years, 56 days|
|Jennifer Palmieri||January 25, 2013||April 1, 2015||2 years, 66 days|
|Jen Psaki||April 1, 2015||January 20, 2017||1 year, 294 days|
|Sean Spicer||January 20, 2017||March 6, 2017||45 days||Donald Trump|
|Mike Dubke||March 6, 2017||June 2, 2017||88 days|
|Sean Spicer (acting)||June 2, 2017||July 21, 2017||49 days|
|Anthony Scaramucci||July 21, 2017||July 31, 2017||11 days|
|Hope Hicks||August 16, 2017||March 29, 2018||225 days|
|Bill Shine||July 5, 2018||March 8, 2019||246 days|
|Stephanie Grisham||July 1, 2019||April 7, 2020||281 days|
|Kate Bedingfield||January 20, 2021||Present||311 days||Joe Biden|
- "White House Unit Takes on New Life", The Washington Post, November 26, 1973, p. 9.
- Judiciary, United States Congress House Committee on the (1973). Impeachment: Selected Materials. Government Printing Office. ISBN 9780160577031.
- "Press Operations in White House Revised, With Politics Ruled Out", The New York Times, August 17, 1974, p. 15.
- "Richard Nixon: Letter Accepting the Resignation of Herbert G. Klein as Director of Communications for the Executive Branch". presidency.ucsb.edu.
- Kumar, Martha Joynt (July 6, 2007). Managing the President's Message: The White House Communications Operation. JHU Press. ISBN 9780801886522 – via Google Books.
- Shabecoff, Philip (July 13, 1976). "Ford Shifts and Expands Press Staff". The New York Times – via NYTimes.com.
- "Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library and Museum". fordlibrarymuseum.gov.
- "URSOMARSO, FRANK: Files, 1981 (3.1 l.ft.; Box 1-8)" (PDF).
- "Ronald Reagan: Appointment of Frank A. Ursomarso as Director of the White House Office of Communications". www.presidency.ucsb.edu. Archived from the original on July 29, 2017.
- "Key Reagan Administration Officials". reagan.utexas.edu. Archived from the original on March 4, 2005.
- "Letter Accepting the Resignation of John O. Koehler as Assistant to the President and Director of Communications". reaganlibrary.archives.gov. Archived from the original on May 8, 2016.
- Appointment of Margaret DeBardeleben Tutwiler as Assistant to the President for Communications, gpo.gov.
- "William J. Clinton: Press Briefing by David Gergen and Mark Gearan". presidency.ucsb.edu.
- "George W. Bush: Statement by the Press Secretary: Bartlett Named White House Communications Director". presidency.ucsb.edu.
- "President Donald J. Trump Announces White House Staff Appointments", whitehouse.gov, March 6, 2017.
- "Mysterious disappearance of Donald Trump's mouthpiece Sean Spicer". The New Zealand Herald. June 6, 2017. Retrieved June 6, 2017.
- The White House (July 21, 2017), Press Briefing with Principal Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, retrieved July 21, 2017
- Herman, Steve. "Shakeup Puts Different Face on White House Communications". VOA. Retrieved August 15, 2017.
- "Mysterious disappearance of Donald Trump's mouthpiece Sean Spicer". NZ Herald. Retrieved August 15, 2017.
- Shen, Lucinda (July 21, 2017). "Anthony Scaramucci Thinks the White House Is About to Have a 'Phenomenal Relationship' With the Press". Fortune. Retrieved August 13, 2017.
- Shear, Michael D.; Thrush, Glenn; Haberman, Maggie (July 31, 2017). "John Kelly, Asserting Authority, Fires Anthony Scaramucci". The New York Times. Retrieved August 1, 2017.
- TIME staff (July 31, 2017). "Watch Live: White House Holds Press Briefing After Anthony Scaramucci Resigns as Communications Director". TIME. Retrieved August 1, 2017.
- "Anthony Scaramucci: Five top tips to lose a job in 10 days". BBC News. August 1, 2017.
Anthony Scaramucci had not yet made it to his official start date before he was fired
- Santos, Amanda Proença (July 31, 2017). "Scaramucci Sets New Record for Shortest Term as Communications Director". NBC News. Retrieved August 14, 2017.
Though President Donald Trump appointed Scaramucci to the role 10 days ago, he only held the position for six days thanks to an official start date of July 25.
- "Hope Hicks tapped for interim White House communications director". Fox News. August 16, 2017. Retrieved August 16, 2017.
- Ballhaus, Rebecca (September 12, 2017). "Hope Hicks Named Permanent White House Communications Director". The Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved March 4, 2018.
- Rogers, Katie; Haberman, Maggie (March 29, 2018). "Hope Hicks is Gone, and It's Not Clear Who Can Replace Her". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 30, 2018.
- "Ex-Fox News exec Bill Shine to join White House". The Hill. July 5, 2018. Retrieved July 5, 2018.
- Wise, Alana (April 7, 2020). "White House Press Secretary Grisham Moves Back To First Lady's Office". NPR. Retrieved April 7, 2020.
- "Kate Bedingfield, White House Communications Director". President-Elect Joe Biden. Retrieved December 12, 2020.