In an interview with NPR's Steve Inskeep earlier this week, President Bush's chief speechwriter Michael Gerson spoke for all speechwriters when he suggested President Trump could do us all a favor by sticking to a prepared text.
"The president does have the ability, if he makes a gaffe or says something wrong, you know, to tank global markets, to invite the possibility of conflict," Gerson said. "You know, it would be my recommendation that we – my main recommendation—that the White House do away with presidential press conferences."
Seemingly surprised to hear a member of the media suggest Trump do away with press conferences, Inskeep pressed Gerson, who showed his speechwriter roots: "Yeah, absolutely, because I think that he would—could be capable of saying two or three things at any press conference, particularly early, that could have terrible real-world consequences. … I want him to be scripted early on because I don't think he's capable or experienced enough to be responsible in that kind of setting as president of the United States."
Anyone who hangs around speechwriters knows that advice isn't unique to Gerson, or Trump (or President Clinton, who improvised often). Speechwriters are always fretting over speakers who depart dangerously from carefully prepared and fact-checked remarks. Will Trump take this profession's advice, or won't he? We'll be watching. —DM