Daily Mail‘s U.S. Editor David Martosko has been bandied about for White House press secretary.
The news popped up in a story by HuffPost’s Michael Calderone, which also tossed conservative commentator Laura Ingraham, RNC Communications Director Sean Spicer and Donald Trump‘s transition Communications Director Jason Miller into the ring. Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks poured cold water on Martosko as a possibility. But the idea, the story reported, came from “sources with knowledge of the situation.”
According to sources close to Martosko, he’s going with the flow about the possibility of working in Trump’s White House. He’s hoping journalists would appreciate having one of their own at that podium and hopefully won’t carpet bomb his chances.
Martosko, 46, is a unique choice for a number of reasons.
What would endear him to President-elect Trump may irritate White House reporters who find themselves in the position of begging him and relying on him for information. Reporters don’t tend to love the White House press secretary. But they don’t always hate him. Think Dana Perino (George W. Bush), Mike McCurry (Bill Clinton) and the late Tony Snow (George W. Bush).
“Seriously????? That’s shocking. Can you imagine how much he’d be hated?” a Washington journalist wondered. “Wow. That’s the ultimate middle finger to the media.”
Other sources agreed that Martosko would be an odd choice.
“Can you imagine the uproar there would have been if a member of the traveling press covering Clinton had walked straight off her campaign plane and into a job as chief liar in her White House?” asked a Washington reporter who has covered the White House. “Also, The Daily Mail got consistently pro-Trump coverage from Martosko and at times it seemed like he was working for Trump already. So maybe if he gets press secretary the Daily Mail will get a refund from the Trump campaign.”
Another longtime member of Washington’s journalism community gave Martosko a thumbs down.
And that’s putting it nicely.
“I think the Trump would be better off appointing a horse’s ass,” the media insider told The Mirror. “At least with the horse, they could use all the shit that falls out of his mouth for fertilizer.”
The insider quickly wrote back to say, “I meant ass, not mouth, but you know what I’m trying to say.”
So what’s the appeal for Trump to choose this man?
As revealed by WikiLeaks, Martosko was utterly despised by Hillary Clinton‘s campaign. Aides once refused to let him into a Clinton event. They discussed finding a way to get him kicked out of the press pool. They called him “disturbing.” They said he shouted over other reporters’ questions and sometimes chased Clinton’s motorcade and got too close. They claimed police had to pull him over. Martosko denied that never happened.
They even gave him his own hashtag: #Creepolla.
Clinton’s top aide Huma Abedin called him an “intrepid reporter” and sarcastically referred to him as “charming.” Her traveling press secretary Jesse Ferguson described him as “absolutely the worst” and apologized on behalf of all communication aides who ever have to deal with him. (RELATED: Hillary Clinton Campaign Wanted Daily Mail Reporter Removed From Press Pool)
But the truth is, not every Washington journalist is so down on the choice of Martosko.
“If you’re looking for a smart, feisty, no-bullshit press secretary who doesn’t have the baggage of being an insufferable pundit or Trump sycophant, Martosko would be a good choice,” a Washington journalist told The Mirror anonymously. “Given what we’d expect from Trump—a press operation on the offensive—Martosko is probably one of the best choices you could make.”
Another plus for Martosko is that he can’t be thought of as a “swamp” pick like Spicer. Ingraham, who runs the news site LifeZette, might be seen as a “swamp” choice, but she’s also considered to be a true believer. Martosko is more of a scrappy reporter type. No matter what they think of his work, fellow journalists know he’s not afraid to work hard. They could, however, do without his lecturing and arrogance.
While he has challenged Trump on camera, Martosko is known for being a notorious suckup to Trump. And Trump rewards loyalty. If Breitbart New‘s Matthew Boyle is the equivalent of Trump’s media son, Martosko is his older brother.
“It’s not a surprise. He’s been kissing Trump’s ass for a while,” said a reporter on condition of anonymity.
In May, Martosko ran photographs of himself and Trump at the end of one of his stories. Publishing a me-wall isn’t exactly typical behavior of a reporter covering a campaign.
On the other side of the ledger, he has also called Trump’s behavior “dumb,” which could rub his potential new boss the wrong way but align him with reporters.
In mid-September Trump left reporters high and dry when he delivered a speech in New Hampshire without the press. Trump gloated at his rally that he purposely snubbed the media.
Martosko was annoyed.
“We pay through the nose for press charter, which Trump campaign organizes & arranges … He started in NH w/ us still on the tarmac. So dumb,” he wrote on Twitter alongside the other complaining reporters.
Martosko knows how to display a sense of humor, which is an important attribute for any White House press secretary.
After Trump delivered an August stump speech, he laughed along with other reporters when Trump replaced the word “cities” with “titties.”
He wrote on Twitter, “‘Do we have to censor ‘titties’?’ — every political editor in America right now.”
And in July, he wished for Trump to be blah so he wouldn’t have to write a story.
“Don’t tempt fate. if he stays boring, I don’t have to write on the plane,” he wrote on Twitter. “I get the impression Trump is tired of making news today. Toledo speech is a greatest-hits stumpy-stump so far.”
Martosko is extremely open about the fact that he’s a recovering alcoholic and takes his sobriety seriously. While covering a fancy award dinner for Trump in Washington last year, he accidentally took a tiny sip of alcohol thinking it was water or soda and was absolutely beside himself with worry. The scene was actually touching and heart wrenching.
He even, on occasion, makes formal amends for what he considers bad blood.
The seriousness of his recovery makes sense. Martosko has a rap sheet — a DWI and an arrest for public intoxication, which was dismissed and expunged.
Another weird detail about him: The Dartmouth grad led an a cappella group at college.
The reality is that the Daily Mail editor who was formerly Executive Editor of The Daily Caller has every incentive in the world to seek the West Wing post.
“Looking at his Twitter feed, he is openly auditioning for press secretary,” a Washington reporter told The Mirror. “He even described Trump as intellectually curious and patient and caring in private! I suppose this is what happens. Power corrupts. Supposed outsider journalists suddenly see dollar signs and they start angling for a job. A post like press secretary guarantees, what, half a million a year afterwards for the next decade plus if you play things right? And Martosko is in his late 50s I think. This is a chance to get on the gravy train and ride it to retirement.”
The Mirror sought comment from Martosko, asking him if he wanted the job and if he’d been approached about it.
He declined to comment on the matter.
Correction: Martosko has one DWI.