December 22, 2016 / 7:38 PM / 7 months ago

UPDATE 1-Trump taps RNC's Spicer for White House spokesman

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(Adds titles, background on Spicer)

By David Alexander

WASHINGTON, Dec 22 (Reuters) - The Republican National Committee spokesman Sean Spicer will serve as U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's press secretary in the White House when he takes office next month, Trump announced on Thursday.

To round out his communications team, the president-elect appointed loyalists from his upstart presidential campaign. Hope Hicks, Trump's sole spokeswoman when he began what was considered a longshot candidacy in June 2015, will be director of strategic communications.

Jason Miller was appointed director of communications and Dan Scavino was named director of social media.

Spicer, 45, served as RNC spokesman during Trump's presidential campaign, alongside party chairman Reince Priebus, who stood by Trump amid furious opposition from establishment Republicans and was rewarded with the chief of staff position.

Acerbic and professional, Spicer, a Navy Reserve commander, has been openly critical of media coverage of Republican candidates and the president-elect, but insists the future U.S. leader has a high regard for press freedom.

"We understand and respect the role that the press plays in a democracy. It is healthy, it's important. But it's a two-way street," Spicer told Politico recently, before bashing the news outlet for what he said was exclusively negative coverage.

Spicer, who has been a spokesman for the Trump transition team, has a long background in public affairs.

He led a turnaround in the RNC's public affairs operation after taking over as communications director in 2011. He beefed up social media operations, built an in-house TV production team and created a rapid response effort to reply to attacks.

Spicer worked in President George W. Bush's administration as the assistant U.S. Trade Representative for media and public affairs. Before that, he was communications director for the Republican Conference in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Spicer has tried to reassure news organizations that Trump will not try to ban them from covering him, as the president-elect sometimes sought to do during the election campaign.

But Spicer and other Trump aides have indicated the new president would shake up the status quo in White House dealings with the media, including re-examining the need for daily televised news briefings and the practice of assigned seating in the briefing room.

"I think we have to look at everything," Spicer told Fox News when asked about the briefings. "And so I don't know that it needs to be daily. I don't know that they all need to be on camera."

Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Chris Reese and Leslie Adler

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