Though critics and allies alike were shocked when President Donald Trump left press secretary and devout Catholic Sean Spicer out during the president's first papal visit, a new report by the Washington Post suggests that such slights are par for the course in today's White House.
"Enduring public humiliation has become a defining characteristic of Spicer’s tenure in the White House," Post reporter Ashley Parker wrote. "Yet being excluded from the papal visit still stunned his colleagues, many of whom expressed pity for him and were visibly uncomfortable talking about the slight."
As exemplified by Spicer's treatment, seemingly-personal rebuffs and backhanded compliments are reportedly an expected part of the White House culture under the 45th president.
"In Trump’s White House," Parker wrote, "aides serve a president who demands absolute loyalty — but who doesn’t always offer it in return. Trump prefers a management style in which even compliments can come laced with a bite, and where enduring snubs and belittling jokes, even in public, is part of the job."
According to the Post report, these "belittling" comments are directed at everyone from Chief-of-Staff Reince Preibus (who Trump reportedly refers to as "Reince-y") to Vice President Mike Pence.
Preibus, who was the Republican National Committee's chairman during last year's election, is often a regular source of ire for Trump, who according to Parker's sources "frequently reminds Priebus that when “Access Hollywood’ tapes emerged during the campaign on which Trump could be heard boasting about groping women without their consent, Priebus urged him to drop out of the race."
It's not just top aides that are the recipients of such digs. According to the Post's report, Trump appears to enjoy reminding staffers that he "has the power to demote them at any time".
Though Trump spokespeople and allies refer to the president's ribbing as part and parcel of his "warm, familial leadership style," outsiders see it as evidence of deeper issues.
"Trump is so deeply insecure that not even becoming president of the United States quenched his need to make others feel small to build himself up,” Tim Miller, former spokesman for the anti-Trump super PAC "Our Principles", told Parker. “Choosing to work for him necessitates a willingness to be demeaned in order to assuage his desire to feel like a big, important person.”
Read the entire report on the insults endured by Trump staffers via the Post.