Donald Trump isn't the first celebrity to assume the White House. For example, Ronald Reagan, a former actor, went on to become one of the most notable Republican presidents in history. But Trump is the first reality star in the era of social media and selfies to be elected to America's highest office — and apparently, his fame is starting to affect key members of his administration. Staffers Sean Spicer and Kellyanne Conway are reportedly being stalked by the paparazzi, with some photographers even waiting for hours outside of their homes to catch a glimpse of them.
According to POLITICO, paparazzi who usually make their living photographing celebrities are now capitalizing off of Trump's unorthodox presidency by turning their attention to his aides. Even celebrity photographer Mark Wilkins, who gained notoriety after Shia LaBeouf threw a cup of coffee on him, has taken an interest in Spicer and Conway. Wilkins told POLITICO that he often sits for hours outside of Spicer's house in his car, and sometimes even follows him to church.
"I get tips from airlines and train stations, when they [Spicer and Conway] fly in and out. Waiting around the White House is boring — you don't know what entrance they’re going to use," Wilkins said.
Tabloids like the Daily Mail even reportedly pay photographers a daily rate to wait outside of Ivanka Trump's Washington, D.C. home to snap photos of the fashion mogul-turned-presidential advisor, two sources claimed to POLITICO.
This celebrity-level interest in White House aides is unprecedented, especially in comparison with former officials who have held Spicer and Conway's positions in the past. Obama's White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told POLITICO that he is barely recognized in public. By contrast, a recent poll shows that over half of Americans are familiar with who Spicer is.
While Conway seemed to respond favorably to her newfound fame, telling POLITICO that "it makes the president even more accessible to the public," it is somewhat troubling to note how blurry the lines have become between celebrity and public official, between spectacle and diplomacy, and between the promoting public interest and invading an official's privacy. For example, the Daily Mail even intruded on Conway's post-election family vacation in Florida to publish dozens of photos of her in a swimsuit.
Both Conway and Spicer are representing the president, and technically the people, in very serious matters of international security, foreign affairs, and domestic policy. The media, including tabloids, should either focus on the issues at hand, or leave White House officials alone so they can focus on it themselves.