In a new in-depth interview with The Hollywood Reporter, President Donald Trump’s counselor and spokesperson Kellyanne Conway reveals a desire to spend less time in front of television cameras. That’s not because she’s tired of being a target of criticism, but because it limits her input in the administration’s internal policymaking process.
In her conversation with THR‘s Michael Wolff, Conway shows good humor in the face of attacks from her critics in politics and the media, and says that what many in the mainstream media took as gaffes have actually won her points with President Trump. In particular, she says the president was impressed by a January 22nd interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd in which she defended Trump press secretary Sean Spicer’s use of what she termed “alternative facts.”
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That turn of phrase was taken by many as a defense of inaccuracy, fueling the already widespread disdain for Conway on the left. Observers on Twitter see her, in her words, as an “ugly, stupid, liar, meth queen.” Conway’s take, of course, is much different—she sees herself as “trying to stand up to the cacophony, sameness, and myopia of the media world.”
Despite that confrontational ethos, Conway says she has been personally courted in private by editors and influencers across the political spectrum, from Charlie Rose to Huffington Post reporter Howard Fineman. And she revels in the media’s conflicted fascination with her, saying that she can “go on any show at any time.”
But Conway’s effectiveness in the limelight doesn’t seem to mesh with her own deepest ambitions. She tells Wolff that she declined an offer to be Trump’s press secretary, or any job explicitly tied to communications, and is working to reduce her media exposure. As Wolff summarizes it, Conway believes less time on camera would allow her to have more influence within the administration.
That step back may or may not ever happen. She has been continually on camera since the inauguration, and says she has promised Trump that she will continue to “oversee and be a part of the communications and message for the White House.”
For more on Kellyanne Conway and the Trump White House, watch our video.
Conway also offered some insight into her relationship with President Trump, who she first got to know when serving on the condo board of Trump World Tower in New York.
“I told him when he offered me the job [that] I don’t consider myself to be your peer, and I will not call you by your first name. And some feminists may go crazy . . . but it’s called respect, and it’s called deference, and it’s called hierarchy.”
Some might assume such deference would keep Conway from achieving the broader influence she wants in the Trump administration. But she knows as well as anyone that the usual rules no longer apply.