The White House press secretary’s job is never easy. But Stephanie Grisham is in an even tougher position than her predecessor Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who she replaced last week, because Grisham now handles media matters for two Trumps, the president and the first lady. And she just learned firsthand that working for the commander-in-chief requires that she be ready to take a literal hit if she wants to “be best.”
On June 30, Grisham accompanied Trump on his brief visit to the Korean demilitarized zone (DMZ), where he met with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. The new White House press secretary was seen in videos posted online shoving her way through a crowd of North Korean security guards—described as “a little overzealous” by Bloomberg White House reporter Jennifer Jacobs—at the leaders’ meeting in the DMZ’s Freedom House. She was trying to clear a path for American journalists and shouting, “Go! Go!”
This surprising zeal on behalf of American journalists may have earned Grisham some admiration. Trump-era reporters are not used to the White House press secretary fighting for them as much as pushing back against their questions. The president, after all, considers the news media “the enemy of the people,” and the approach Sanders took suggests she thinks similarly.
Grisham, given her willingness to take on North Korean security for US reporters, signaled that she’s slightly different. Or perhaps she was just excited by the rare historic occasion. Even Donald Trump was feeling unusually friendly about reporters after becoming the first sitting US president to visit North Korea. Though it is not his custom, he expressed gratitude to journalists after the meeting, exuberantly telling them, “I want to thank all of the media.”