The White House has sidelined Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway from further television appearances after multiple instances of on-air statements that contradicted the administration’s position.
Conway, who has been among the most high-profile members of the Trump team and a virtual fixture on TV news programs, has not made an appearance for an on-air interview since early last week, when she said that then National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had the “full confidence” of the president of the United States. That account was contradicted just an hour later by White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
Of course, Flynn resigned from his post later that evening amid revelations that he has been dishonest with Vice President Pence about the nature of his conversations with Russia’s ambassador.
The following day, during the White House daily briefing, Spicer said that Trump asked for Flynn’s resignation. That statement was again, in direct contradiction to Conway’s statement earlier that day on NBC’s “Today” that Flynn had offered to step down from his post. And when questioned on the matter, she made it clear that her information came directly from President Trump on Tuesday morning — shortly before the on-air appearance.
According to a CNN report citing to an anonymous White House source, Conway was “off message.” Apparently the ban on appearances does not extend to radio shows — on which she has appeared since last week.
The senior aide to Trump has had a number of highly publicized gaffes, among them referring to the Bowling Green Massacre — a terrorist attack which never occurred — to support Trump’s controversial travel ban. She also came under widespread scrutiny when she did what she called a “free commercial” promoting Ivanka Trump’s product line, which the Office of Government Ethics determined to be an ethics rule violation, prompting a letter to the White House recommending disciplinary action against Conway.
Conway, herself, claims that she disputes that she has been sidelined. “I’ve been invited on shows every day, including two Sunday shows. I’m trying to focus on other pieces of my portfolio,” she said. She also said that Trump was his own best “communicator and connector,” and did not need her constant presence on TV — “None of us do it like he does,” she added.
The administration reportedly has seen fewer controversies which Conway has been absent from the airways, further lending support that she may have been part of the problem. According to a White House source who spoke to CNN, “Clearly they’re having much more of a drama-free week. Having Kellyanne off television is helping them.”
Several sources both in and outside of the White House believe that Conway was also responsible for leaking negative stories about Sean Spicer to the press, which was making his job more difficult. To the extent those suspicions are true, it is still too early to know whether the leaks will increase or continue.
It is also clear that many news programs are reluctant about allowing Conway on their shows because of her propensity to spread falsehoods — something that has been increasingly her hallmark since joining Trump’s campaign last summer.
“Trump was using her as an effective surrogate. Then, she started becoming ineffective,” according to one source. “So, they’re letting the heat cool off.”