PART II – A Conversation with Brian Stelter on His Best-Seller, ‘HOAX: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth’

 

Join Michael Zeldin for Part II of his interview with CNN anchor and media analyst Brian Stelter on his best-seller, HOAX: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth.

Even before the Trump administration, communicators have long been intrigued by the curious friendship forged by conservative commentators with conservatives in government. But this was the first administration where the friendship is so obvious in its mutual dependence and co-existence.

In this no-holds-barred discussion, Stelter reveals the surprising genesis of this strange friendship, how it is impacting the relationship, and how Fox News continues to chip away at our concept of Truth.

Listen to Part I here.

Guest

Brian Stelter

Chief Media Correspondent and Anchor of Reliable Sources

Brian Stelter is the anchor of “Reliable Sources,” which examines the week’s top media stories every Sunday at 11:00 a.m. ET on CNN/U.S, and the chief media correspondent for CNN Worldwide. Stelter reports for CNN Business, and writes a nightly e-newsletter.

Prior to joining CNN in November 2013, Stelter was a media reporter at The New York Times. Starting in 2007, he covered television and digital media for the Business Day and Arts section of the newspaper. He was also a lead contributor to the “Media Decoder” blog.

Stelter published The New York Times best-selling book, “HOAX: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth” in fall 2020, which tells the twisted story of the relationship between President Trump and Fox News. Over the course of two years writing the book, Stelter spoke with over 250 current and former Fox insiders in an effort to understand the inner workings of Rupert Murdoch’s multibillion-dollar media empire.

In 2013, he published The New York Times best-selling book, “Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV”, about the competitive world of morning news shows. He is a consulting producer on Apple’s drama “The Morning Show,” which is inspired by his book.

In 2020, Stelter executive produced the HBO Documentary, “After Truth: Disinformation and the Cost of Fake News,” directed by Andrew Rossi, who featured Stelter in his 2011 documentary, “Page One: Inside the New York Times.” Stelter was also named to Forbes Magazine’s “30 Under 30: Media” for three consecutive years, and Fortune Magazine’s “40 Under 40: Media & Entertainment.”

In January 2004, while he was a freshman at Towson University in Baltimore, Maryland, Stelter created TV Newser, a blog dedicated to coverage of the television news industry. He sold it to Mediabistro.com in July 2004, but continued to edit and write for the blog during the next three years until he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications with a concentration in Journalism. He is on the board of Baltimore Student Media, a nonprofit that publishes Towson’s independent student newspaper, The Towerlight.

Host

Michael Zeldin

Michael Zeldin is a well-known and highly-regarded TV and radio analyst/commentator.

He has covered many high-profile matters, including the Clinton impeachment proceedings, the Gore v. Bush court challenges, Special Counsel Robert Muller’s investigation of interference in the 2016 presidential election, and the Trump impeachment proceedings. 

In 2019, Michael was a Resident Fellow at the Institute of Politics at the Harvard Kennedy School, where he taught a study group on Independent Investigations of Presidents.

Previously, Michael was a federal prosecutor with the U.S. Department of Justice. He also served as Deputy Independent/ Independent Counsel, investigating allegations of tampering with presidential candidate Bill Clinton’s passport files, and as Deputy Chief Counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives, Foreign Affairs Committee, October Surprise Task Force, investigating the handling of the American hostage situation in Iran.

Michael is a prolific writer and has published Op-ed pieces for CNN.com, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Hill, The Washington Times, and The Washington Post.

Follow Michael on Twitter: @MichaelZeldin




PART I – A Conversation with Brian Stelter on His Best-Seller, ‘HOAX: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth’

 

About

Join Michael Zeldin as he interviews CNN anchor and media analyst Brian Stelter on his best-seller, HOAX: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth.

Even before the Trump administration, communicators have long been intrigued by the curious friendship forged by conservative commentators with conservatives in government. But this was the first administration where the friendship is so obvious in its mutual dependence and co-existence.

In this no-holds-barred discussion, Stelter reveals the surprising genesis of this strange friendship, how it is impacting the relationship, and how Fox News continues to chip away at our concept of Truth.

Guest

Brian Stelter

Chief Media Correspondent and Anchor of Reliable Sources

Brian Stelter is the anchor of “Reliable Sources,” which examines the week’s top media stories every Sunday at 11:00 a.m. ET on CNN/U.S, and the chief media correspondent for CNN Worldwide. Stelter reports for CNN Business, and writes a nightly e-newsletter.

Prior to joining CNN in November 2013, Stelter was a media reporter at The New York Times. Starting in 2007, he covered television and digital media for the Business Day and Arts section of the newspaper. He was also a lead contributor to the “Media Decoder” blog.

Stelter published The New York Times best-selling book, “HOAX: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth” in fall 2020, which tells the twisted story of the relationship between President Trump and Fox News. Over the course of two years writing the book, Stelter spoke with over 250 current and former Fox insiders in an effort to understand the inner workings of Rupert Murdoch’s multibillion-dollar media empire.

In 2013, he published The New York Times best-selling book, “Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV”, about the competitive world of morning news shows. He is a consulting producer on Apple’s drama “The Morning Show,” which is inspired by his book.

In 2020, Stelter executive produced the HBO Documentary, “After Truth: Disinformation and the Cost of Fake News,” directed by Andrew Rossi, who featured Stelter in his 2011 documentary, “Page One: Inside the New York Times.” Stelter was also named to Forbes Magazine’s “30 Under 30: Media” for three consecutive years, and Fortune Magazine’s “40 Under 40: Media & Entertainment.”

In January 2004, while he was a freshman at Towson University in Baltimore, Maryland, Stelter created TV Newser, a blog dedicated to coverage of the television news industry. He sold it to Mediabistro.com in July 2004, but continued to edit and write for the blog during the next three years until he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications with a concentration in Journalism. He is on the board of Baltimore Student Media, a nonprofit that publishes Towson’s independent student newspaper, The Towerlight.

Host

Michael Zeldin

Michael Zeldin is a well-known and highly-regarded TV and radio analyst/commentator.

He has covered many high-profile matters, including the Clinton impeachment proceedings, the Gore v. Bush court challenges, Special Counsel Robert Muller’s investigation of interference in the 2016 presidential election, and the Trump impeachment proceedings. 

In 2019, Michael was a Resident Fellow at the Institute of Politics at the Harvard Kennedy School, where he taught a study group on Independent Investigations of Presidents.

Previously, Michael was a federal prosecutor with the U.S. Department of Justice. He also served as Deputy Independent/ Independent Counsel, investigating allegations of tampering with presidential candidate Bill Clinton’s passport files, and as Deputy Chief Counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives, Foreign Affairs Committee, October Surprise Task Force, investigating the handling of the American hostage situation in Iran.

Michael is a prolific writer and has published Op-ed pieces for CNN.com, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Hill, The Washington Times, and The Washington Post.

Follow Michael on Twitter: @MichaelZeldin




How To Survive The Donald Trump At Your Agency: A Few Characteristics You Will Certainly Recognize

(Author’s Note: This is the 11th in a series of occasional political columns that I’ll be writing for CommPRO.biz  until Inauguration Day, January 20. Previously, I wrote 17 political columns leading up to Election Day. FYI: My first public relations job was with a political firm, where I worked on local, statewide and presidential campaigns. In this column I write that many agencies have a Donald Trump type executive, and ways to deal with such an individual.)

Arthur Solomon

Donald Trump’s nightmarish assault on American democracy and our Constitution is soon to end. Thank God! Hopefully so will his involvement in politics. I never wish poor health on anyone, but I do hope that the soon-to-be former president and would-be dictator never again has a golf game that results in him having less than 200 stokes a round. If that causes him to have high blood pressure or an ulcer, it’s his own doing. Instead of playing lousy golf, he could have prayed for forgiveness for the damage he has done to American society.

For many in our business, the flawed Trump characteristics that were exposed daily since 2015 was nothing new, because there was and will still be at least one Donald Trump at your agency.

If you were fortunate to stay at the same  PR agency for more than a cup of coffee, as I was before starting out on my own (full disclosure: 10 years at a fairly large agency, no longer in business, before being recruited by the mammoth Burson-Marsteller firm, where I toiled for almost 25 years) you certainly have known of or worked for the Donald Trump at your agency. It’s the supervisors who lie, bullies, threatens, takes all the credit for your good work and blames you for their mistakes.

Here are some characteristics of the Donald Trump at your agency, hopefully not at your expense.

  • Have you ever toiled to craft a new client program and when it was completed and ready to be submitted for client approval a higher-up, who added nothing to the program’s elements and remained quiet during its crafting, said, “I don’t like it. Redo it.?” That’s the Donald Trump at your agency.
  • A supervisor’s dismissal of anyone that disagreed with him: .That’s the Donald Trump at your agency.
  • A supervisor’s discarding the advice of staffers when crafting a program or media strategies because he/she thinks no one is smarter. That’s the Donald Trump at your agency. 
  • A supervisor refusing to admit that things went wrong because of his or her screw-ups. That’s the Donald Trump at your agency.
  • Promoting individuals because of their loyalty. That’s the Donald Trump at your agency.
  • Thinking that lashing out at lower level people will result in their doing better work. That’s the Donald Trump at your agency.
  • Belittling people. That’s the Donald Trump at your agency.
  • Supervisors writing “team concept” reports to management, instead of giving credit to individuals. That’s the Donald Trump at your agency.
  • Supervisors rejecting ideas from people in their groups. Then making trivial changes to give the impression that they developed all the ideas and let higher management believe it was so. That’s the Donald Trump at your agency.
  • Supervisors threatening staffers with dismissals for not showing enough loyalty to a manager. That’s the Donald Trump at your agency.
  • Supervisors setting unrealistic time frames for the completion of a project without offering a helping hand. That’s the Donald Trump at  your agency.
  • Supervisors giving poor evaluations to people who are smarter than they are for fear of being exposed that they lack the skills of people lower down the ladder. That’s the Donald Trump at your agency.
  • Supervisors making false promises to staffers to keep them from leaving. That’s the Donald Trump at your agency.
  • But, perhaps, the most upsetting Donald Trump characteristic to a low level account staffer at an agency is when a manager resorts to playing office politics, rewarding favorites or drinking buddies, at the expense of those who deserve to be rewarded. That’s a supervisor’s Donald Trump trait that many people at agencies have surely witnessed,

If you are unfortunate enough to report to the Donald Trump at your agency you must protect yourself.

Here are a few ways to do so:

  • You can become a supervisor’s lackey.
  • You can become the office spy and report any griping to management.

But I don’t approve doing the above; it’s self degrading. Also, you will lose the respect of other employees and when management shifts occur, all your ill conceived hopes for advancement will disappear. (No one, except the actual Donald Trump, likes a conniver.) 

Instead do the following: 

  • Keep detailed notes after every conversation or group meeting with your supervisor and write a memo for file.
  • If your ideas are constantly being appropriated by your supervisor you must let management know or you will never get the recognition and promotion you deserve.
  • Ask a client who complements you to please put it in writing and to specifically mention you in the client’s year-end evaluation to agency brass.
  • As a last resort, you must go over your supervisor’s head by preparing a memo detailing how you have helped accounts and send it directly to top management. This will upset your supervisor. But let’s face it. Despite the in-house agency propaganda of “we’re all in this together,” agency life is similar to being ship wrecked and then trying to out swim chasing sharks, of which there are plenty at your agency.

Remember: At an agency, there are five rules to commit to memory: 1) It’s every person for themselves, because if you can be replaced with someone who will work for a lower salary than you, it’s only a matter of time before management will find reasons to terminate you.  2) On a merry-go-round, there are only so many brass rings to go around. 3) At an agency, the green eyed jealous monster is alive and thriving at promotion time. 4) Good work is no guarantee of long tenure and 5) As Niccolo Machiavelli wrote in “The Prince,” “The promise given was a necessity of the past: the word broken is a necessity of the present”. Remember that when management makes a promise.

It is also important to understand that H. R. people are not your friends. Their job is to protect the agency. So never complain about being treated unfairly to H.R. personnel. Chances are that you’ll be listed as a “complainer” by the H.R. person whose traits are like former Trump Attorney General William Barr.

Yes, in addition to the Donald Trump at your agency, there is also a William Barr type, who is a devotee of another Trump-like person at your firm – Kellyanne Conway, the former Senior Advisor to President Trump, better known as the originator of “alternate facts,” which surly is used often by supervisors at your agency.


The Unspoken PR Tenet: Bad News Is Good News for Our Business By Arthur SolomonAbout the Author: Arthur Solomon, a former journalist, was a senior VP/senior counselor at Burson-Marsteller, and was responsible for restructuring, managing and playing key roles in some of the most significant national and international sports and nonsports programs. He also traveled internationally as a media adviser to high-ranking government officials. He now is a frequent contributor to public relations publications, consults on public relations projects and is on the Seoul Peace Prize nominating committee. He can be reached at arthursolomon4pr (at) juno.com or artsolomon4pr@optimum.net.

 

 

 

 




The Tragedy of Donald Trump’s Presidency And His Indelible Blood Stain. (With Thanks To William Shakespeare)

(Author’s Note: This is the 9th in a series of occasional political columns that I’ll be writing for CommPRO.biz until Inauguration Day, January 20. Previously, I wrote 17 political columns leading up to Election Day. FYI – My first public relations job was with a political firm, where I worked on local, statewide and presidential campaigns. In this column I opine on why President Donald John Trump is responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans.)

Arthur Solomon

In his” Macbeth,” believed to be written in 1606, William Shakespeare wrote one of his most famous lines, having Lady Macbeth say, “Out, damned spot! out, I say!,” while not being able to wash indelible blood from her hands, which she imagined because of the horrible things she and her husband had done to satisfy their ambitions.

The full title of “Macbeth,” was “The Tragedy of Macbeth.” The storyline is similar to “The Tragedy of Donald John Trump,” whose ambitions left him with a stain of indelible blood on his hands, the difference being that Trump’s actions helped kill thousand of Americans; the similarity, like “Macbeth,” being that Trump wanted to rule like a king. 

Only the sloth-like supporters of President Trump can truthfully believe that he is not responsible for the deaths of many Americans. His statements about the coronavirus is tantamount to pleading guilty to murder.

  • He originally insisted that the coronavirus was a “Democratic hoax.” 
  • When a few people were infected with the disease, he said it was under control.
  • Fearing that if the seriousness of the virus became known, it would have an adverse affect on the economy, which was the cornerstone of his reelection campaign, he urged Americans to continue normal activities because the serious of the coronavirus was “fake news.”
  • Similar to his statement that “I know more than the generals,” he assured people that they were not at risk and to disregard the advice of medical scientists.
  • When medical scientists publicly disagreed with him about the seriousness of the coronavirus, he either fired them or disagreed with them during coronavirus task force telecasts, which he eventually discontinued.
  • He mocked mask wearing and social distancing guidelines.
  • His administration refused to permit the The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from issuing recommendations before being edited to coincide with administration’s public relations objectives.
  • True, he pushed for a vaccine, but refused to have himself vaccinated to show the pubic that he had confidence in it. Instead, he threatened to fire Stephen Han, the Commissioner of Food and Drugs, unless the vaccine was approved several house prior to its scheduled approval, causing more distrust among a large percentage of the public who thought the vaccine was being prematurely approved because of political pressure.
  • Trump’s attacks on the media, calling every story critical of him “Fake News,” resulted in millions of his followers from believing truthful news reports about the seriousness of the coronavirus, resulting in thousands of deaths that he is responsible for.

But there was enough blood on the president’s hands to go around.

  • A few years prior to Shakespeare writing “Macbeth,” he wroteHamlet, Prince of Denmark,” which contained characters named Horatio, Hamlet’s best friend, and  Polonius, described as the  bootlicking lord chamberlain of King Claudius, Hamlet’s uncle and stepfather, both roles that Vice President Mike Pence can play with perfection. His leadership of the White House’s coronavirus task force was imbued with politics in mind, instead of science. (A prime example was in late April when the vice president disregard Mayo Clinic policy by refusing to wear a mask while touring the facility, because he feared that doing so would be used by Democrats against President Trump, who refuses to wear one.)
  • Also having blood on their hands were Trump’s defenders in the right wing media, led by, but not exclusively limited to Fox News, whose lead commentators defended the president’s coronavirus strategy as the deaths of Americans continued to increase. These media lackeys urged Americans to go about their business as usual while the chief Trump propagandists — Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson and Laura Ingraham — worked from the safety of their homes, as do some of the most ardent Trump supporters at the Wall Street Journal. (Until the death toll became too great for even the Fox News fabulists to ignore, the trio were echoing Trump’s counterfeit claims that the degree of the virus was being exaggerated to harm him politically.)
  • “King Lear,” first performed in 1606, is another Shakespeare play that has elements resembling what is occurring in the White House today. In the drama, considered one of the Bards greatest plays, King Lear goes mad, a role that the President can play without direction, as he attempts to circumvent the U.S. democratic Constitution and remain in power. In the show, King Lear’s actions results in a civil war, leaving it up to others to re-organize his kingdom, just as it will be up to others to restore the Republican Party to sanity, if possible, and more important, lessen the divide among Americans.

Lord Byron, in his 1823 satirical poem “Don Juan,” wrote, “Tis strange – but true; for truth is always strange; Stranger than fiction.” President Trump’s behavior corroborates that, but its similarity to certain plots in Shakespeare plays also shows that fiction sometime resembles truth. 

After Vice President Pence and his wife publicly received the Covid-19 vaccine on December 18, he said, “As President Trump often says, we are rounding the corner. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

Unfortunately, for more than 300,000 Americans the tunnel led to the cemetery and for thousands more to the ICU beds.


The Unspoken PR Tenet: Bad News Is Good News for Our Business By Arthur SolomonAbout the Author:  Arthur Solomon, a former journalist, was a senior VP/senior counselor at Burson-Marsteller, and was responsible for restructuring, managing and playing key roles in some of the most significant national and international sports and non-sports programs. He also traveled internationally as a media adviser to high-ranking government officials. He now is a frequent contributor to public relations publications, consults on public relations projects and is on the Seoul Peace Prize nominating committee. He can be reached at arthursolomon4pr (at) juno.com or artsolomon4pr@optimum.net.

 




Donald Trump: America’s Fabulist Destroyer Of Democracy

(Author’s Note: This is the fourth in a series of occasional political columns that I’ll be writing for CommPro.biz until Inauguration Day, January 20. Previously, I wrote 17 political columns leading up to Election Day. FYI – My first public relations job was with a political firm, where I worked on local, statewide and presidential campaigns. In this column, I write on why President Trump and his legal team’s post-election behavior demonstrate their disregard for America’s reputation and heritage.)

Arthur Solomon

Benjamin Franklin is undoubtedly one of the greatest of our Founding Fathers. He is famous not only because of his efforts during the colonies fight for independence, but because of his many epigrams. And importantly for a quote that he allegedly said when a woman asked him when he left the 1787 Constitutional Convention, “what kind of a government did you give us a monarchy or a republic?” Franklin replied “A republic, if you can keep it.”

When historians in the future write about Donald Trump’s presidency, surely he’ll be regarded as the first American president who tried to destroy our republic and rule as a monarch. 

Absolute authority has been the hallmark of Trump’s administration ever since he was sworn in on January 20, 2017. But his “my way or the highway” autocratic approach to governing was undeniably on display during the weeks after he was soundly beaten for re-election by Joe Biden, who believes in our democratic form of government.

Ever since his defeat, Trump has attempted to undermine the votes of the almost 80-million Americans who preferred him over Trump. He will be remembered as the most lying, dictatorial, divisive, and openly racist president in our history — as well as the only one who deliberately tried to shred the Constitution. 

Led by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, and aided by Attorney-General William Barr and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Trump team has no compunction about trying to destroy America’s greatest democratic tradition – the acceptance by a president that he has been defeated and allows a peaceful transition to the president-elect.

Despite their claims of a rigged election and fraud when speaking to the media, the Trump legal team claims no such thing in court. They claim  voting irregularities, without providing evidence. And the courts have consistently ruled against them. At least 30 times so far.

The most fabulist claims, thus far, by Giuliani and Powell were made during a a press conference on Nov. 19, when Giuliani called the election a “massive fraud,” and Powell said Biden won because of an international rigging of the election powered by a “massive influence of communist money.” 

Disappointedly only a few Republicans of note have spoken out on the conduct of Trump’s lawyers. The most recent as I write this on November 22, were former New Jersey governor Chris Christie on ABC’s “This Week,” and Maryland Governor Larry Hogan on CNN’s  “State of the Union.”

Christie called Trump’s legal team a “national embarrassment” and said it’s time for Trump to admit that Biden won the election. Hogan said, “We were the most respected country with respect to elections, and now we’re beginning to look like we’re a banana republic,” … “It’s time for them to stop the nonsense. It just gets more bizarre every single day, and, frankly, I’m embarrassed that more people in the party aren’t speaking up.” 

Thus far at least 30 rulings in court have been thrown out because of lack of evidence. Unfortunately, it seems like more unfounded legal challenges are still to come, despite both Republican and Democratic election officials saying many times that there have been no voting irregularities or wide spread fraud.

Some news reports have said that Trump is acting like this because he’s fearful of being prosecuted for crimes once he leaves the office and was hoping that by winning a second term the statue of limitations would have prevented legal action against him. That tactic, thank God, is not going to work.

Other reports say that Trump is acting like this because it’s part of his plan to galvanize his race for a re-run in 2024. The problem with that strategy is that it will also galvanize the Democrats and independents to vote against him again.

What cannot be disputed is that Trump couldn’t care a plug nickel about destroying America’s reputation or democratic traditions. He is a traitor to America’s democratic heritage and so are his cohorts.

The 2020 election campaign has punctured the myth that Trump is a master politician. His first mistake was calling the deadly coronavirus a “Democratic hoax.” 

His second mistake was not taking Joe Biden seriously.

His third mistake was thinking he was he was invincible.

But his biggest mistake was thinking that he could lie his way to a second term.


The Unspoken PR Tenet: Bad News Is Good News for Our Business By Arthur SolomonAbout the Author: Arthur Solomon, a former journalist, was a senior VP/senior counselor at Burson-Marsteller, and was responsible for restructuring, managing and playing key roles in some of the most significant national and international sports and non-sports programs. He also traveled internationally as a media adviser to high-ranking government officials. He now is a frequent contributor to public relations publications, consults on public relations projects and is on the Seoul Peace Prize nominating committee. He can be reached at arthursolomon4pr (at) juno.com and ArtSolomon4pr@optimum.net.

 




A Conversation with Brian Stelter on His Newest Best-Seller, “HOAX: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth”

On-Demand Video

Watch here: https://bit.ly/33Ywl2k

About

Join Michael Zeldin as he interviews CNN anchor and media analyst Brian Stelter on his new best-seller, “HOAX: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth.” This discussion– to be broadcast live just days before the election–could not have come at a more important time:  As we try to analyze the media’s influence on the public in 2020, we need to analyze the president’s impact on the media, especially when that president is Donald Trump and that media is Murdoch’s news empire.

Even before this administration, communicators have long been intrigued by the curious friendship forged by conservative commentators with conservatives in government. But this is the first administration where the friendship is so obvious in its mutual dependence and co-existence.

In this no-holds-barred discussion, Stelter will reveal the surprising genesis of this strange friendship, how it is impacting the relationship, and how Fox News will continue to chip away at our concept of Truth.

Purchase the book here.

Introduction by Lawrence J. Parnell, Associate Professor & Program Director, Masters in Strategic Public Relations – GSPM, Adjunct Professor – School of Business, The George Washington University

Speakers

Brian Stelter

Chief Media Correspondent and Anchor of Reliable Sources

Brian Stelter is the anchor of “Reliable Sources,” which examines the week’s top media stories every Sunday at 11:00 a.m. ET on CNN/U.S, and the chief media correspondent for CNN Worldwide. Stelter reports for CNN Business, and writes a nightly e-newsletter.

Prior to joining CNN in November 2013, Stelter was a media reporter at The New York Times. Starting in 2007, he covered television and digital media for the Business Day and Arts section of the newspaper. He was also a lead contributor to the “Media Decoder” blog.

Stelter published The New York Times best-selling book, “HOAX: Donald Trump, Fox News, and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth” in fall 2020, which tells the twisted story of the relationship between President Trump and Fox News. Over the course of two years writing the book, Stelter spoke with over 250 current and former Fox insiders in an effort to understand the inner workings of Rupert Murdoch’s multibillion-dollar media empire.

In 2013, he published The New York Times best-selling book, “Top of the Morning: Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV”, about the competitive world of morning news shows. He is a consulting producer on Apple’s drama “The Morning Show,” which is inspired by his book.

In 2020, Stelter executive produced the HBO Documentary, “After Truth: Disinformation and the Cost of Fake News,” directed by Andrew Rossi, who featured Stelter in his 2011 documentary, “Page One: Inside the New York Times.” Stelter was also named to Forbes Magazine’s “30 Under 30: Media” for three consecutive years, and Fortune Magazine’s “40 Under 40: Media & Entertainment.”

In January 2004, while he was a freshman at Towson University in Baltimore, Maryland, Stelter created TV Newser, a blog dedicated to coverage of the television news industry. He sold it to Mediabistro.com in July 2004, but continued to edit and write for the blog during the next three years until he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications with a concentration in Journalism. He is on the board of Baltimore Student Media, a nonprofit that publishes Towson’s independent student newspaper, The Towerlight.

Michael Zeldin

Michael Zeldin has served as a TV legal analyst since 1996, covering the OJ Simpson murder trial, Whitewater/Lewinsky investigation, Clinton impeachment proceedings, Gore v. Bush court challenges, and the Mueller Special Counsel investigation.

During his tenure in the U.S. Department of Justice, he held various senior positions, including:  Deputy Chief, Narcotics and Dangerous Drug Section; Chief, Money Laundering and Asset Forfeiture Offices; and Special Counsel for Money Laundering Matters to Criminal Division Assistant Attorney General Robert Mueller.

Mr. Zeldin served as the Deputy Independent/Independent Counsel, investigating allegations of tampering with candidate Bill Clinton’s passport files during the 1992 presidential campaign.

Mr. Zeldin also served as the Deputy Chief Counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives, Foreign Affairs Committee, October Surprise Task Force, where he investigated the events surrounding the holding of the American hostages in Iran during the Carter presidency.

He has published Op-ed pieces for CNN.com, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Hill, The Washington Times, and The Washington Post.

He is an internationally recognized expert on money laundering, terrorist financing and economic sanctions.

 

REGISTER

 




Op-Ed: If Donald Trump And Joe Biden Would Ask My Advice Regarding Choosing Their 2020 Running Mates (With a Look Into The future And A PR Lesson)

Arthur Solomon

In its June 28 edition, the New York Times published a full page analysis of individuals under consideration for Joe Biden’s veep, which he said he will announce in August. I’ve had my own opinion who would be Biden’s best running mate for some time, and all of my choices are on the Times’ list.  

So in this column, I’ll give my reasoning for the top four candidates in the order of my preference. I’ll also give my opinion on who President Trump should choose to run with him.

Biden

  • 1 – Elizabeth Warren: Trump edged out an Electoral College win over Hillary Clinton largely because ultra-liberal Sanders supporters and African-American voters stayed home. Biden already has strong support among voters of color, but he needs to shore up support among voters who think he is too moderate. Warren is the best possible candidate to bring those voters to the polling booths because of her policy positions. Another plus is that she is a traditional liberal Democrat, who will not scare the great majority of moderate and conservative Democratic voters or Never Trump Republicans. She is not the wild-eyed crazy socialist that Trump and his supporters will claim if she is chosen.
  • 2 – Susan Rice: Ms. Rice has many things in her favor. Because of her extensive foreign policy background – she was the national security advisor and ambassador to the United Nations for President Obama s – she would be ready on day one to assume the presidency. Because she is an African-American she would also appeal to those who say Biden must choose a black running mate or we’ll stay home. Her only negative is that she is not that well-known. Normally that would be corrected during the campaign season, but it will be more difficult to do so during a Pandemic with limited campaigning.
  • 3 – Kamala Harris: Sen. Harris, like Sen. Warren is already well known to the public. She has staked out positions that appeal to both liberal and moderate voters. Her policies might be more in line with Biden’s than Warren’s, but whether she can bring out the Sanders supporters on Election Day is questionable.
  • 4 – Gretchen Whitmer: The Michigan governor can fix the problem that has plagued the Democratic Party for a number of years –promoting new and younger politicians. But I think she needs more national exposure in order to be seriously considered as a presidential or vice-presidential candidate. 

    Future Democratic Problem Which Must Be Fixed: In order to remain a party that appeals to all Americans, instead of only the extreme left-wing or people of color elements, the Democrats must choose the best available candidates and resist giving into pressure groups that represent a small portion of American society. The die is cast for the 2020 election, which, as happened in 2018, has seen experienced high-ranking liberal Democrats defeated in primaries by little-known candidates because of the color of their skin. 

    Trump

    If I was advising the president, I’d offer two suggestions:

    • 1Dump Mike Pence. Here’s why: Because of his dishonest critiques of the coronavirus situation, Pence has lost much of his credibility. Even some GOP governors have disregarded his analyses and advice as the virus has mushroomed among GOP-controlled Southern and Western states. Also, Trump already has the Always Trump voters locked up. He doesn’t need another unswerving party-line conservative. What Trump needs is a vice-presidential candidate who can help expand his voter base, which brings us to,
    • 2Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland. Hogan has gained national recognition because of his handling of the coronavirus situation. He is conservatives enough to keep      the “ultras” from staying home on Election Day and appeals to moderates because of his willingness to work across the aisle, unlike any other well-known Republican that I can think of.

    Future Republican Problem Which Must Be Fixed: In order to remain a relevant national party, the GOP has to face facts: Times are changing and the Bush and Trump presidencies were decided by winning in the Electoral College and losing the popular vote. True, a win is a win. But clearly the once solid GOP South, that has been the backbone of the Republican Party, is changing as older voters die and younger voters are becoming more moderate. Already, the once reliable GOP vote of Virginia has disappeared. North Carolina has become a swing state. And Democrats are gaining in states like Texas and Florida, which some analysts say has a good opportunity of voting Democratic, if not this year, by 2024, with the possibility of Georgia become blue before the end of the decade. Also, while younger voters are more likely not to register as a Republican or Democrat, they are more likely to vote Democratic. The Democratic Party is keeping up with the changing times, sometime, in my opinion, going too far to satisfy the “progressive” elements of its party. Conversely, Trump and the Republican Party seems to be rowing without moving as the tide that has kept their ship afloat recedes.

    Saying that I think that Trump has a good chance of winning a second term. That’s because there is a large “silent majority” with anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, anti-African-American and anti-Hispanic elements that will vote this year. But if trends continue, this will be their last presidential hurrah. 

    And as usual a PR lesson: Many of the tenets of public relations that you learned in communications schools have been outdated  and should have been scrapped years ago. Watch TV news shows; read newspapers and magazines and you’ll see what works with journalists. And especially pay attention to the political news shows. You’ll get a tuition-free Master Course in practical PR.


    Note: Arthur Solomon has worked on political campaigns ranging from local races to the presidential level. He has also been a media adviser to high-ranking government officials.)


    The Unspoken PR Tenet: Bad News Is Good News for Our Business By Arthur SolomonAbout the Author: Arthur Solomon, a former journalist, was a senior VP/senior counselor at Burson-Marsteller, and was responsible for restructuring, managing and playing key roles in some of the most significant national and international sports and non-sports programs. He now is a frequent contributor to public relations publications, consults on public relations projects and is on the Seoul Peace Prize nominating committee. He can be reached at arthursolomon4pr@juno.com or artsolomon4pr@optimum,net.

     




    Like Him or Hate Him: President Donald Trump Is Changing PR

    Editor’s Note:  CommPRO reached out to our community, seeking their thoughts about President Donald Trump’s impact on the public relations industry.  We welcome your comments.

    Can It Go Back to Normal Once He Leaves the White House?

    Andrew Blum, Principal, AJB Communications

    President Donald Trump has changed the way political PR operates and how the press covers the White House. As a former reporter, a news junkie, and now a PR consultant, this has been jarring to watch.

    Let’s talk a look at some of the areas where Trump and his staff have changed PR.

    Twitter

    By using Twitter, Trump has changed the way presidential announcements and comments are made. He has made the press cover what he writes on Twitter. This is not a good PR thing since much of what he says on Twitter ferociously attacks people, companies, or groups of people and American allies, or he goes off on defensive rants. “No collusion” is a favorite tweet on the Russia probe.

    Bashing the Media

    Trump has taken attacks on the press to new lows, calling them the enemy of the people, those failing outlets, threatening to change libel laws, and saying the name of the anonymous New York Times op-ed author should be unearthed. But in a way, the more Trump bashes the press, and the more the press investigates Trump, media audiences increase.

    The White House Press Secretary and Press Briefings

    Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders may be one of the word press secretaries ever. Her disdain for the press oozes out of her. She is following the Trump PR m.o. by attacking the media and dodging questions. Briefings themselves have gotten fewer; on September 10, they held a press briefing for the first time in 19 days.

    Trump’s General PR Approach

    Everything for him is a show or a lie or an attack on someone; it’s not good PR. For Trump, PR is all about him. This kind of PR is worse than reality TV. What he says and how he handles PR is important as it has an impact on so many people.

    Fake News and Alternative Facts

    Trump’s way of going after stories he doesn’t like is to call them fake news.  Then there’s Kellyanne Conway, counselor to Trump, coining the term alternative facts during a cable TV interview. Both of these don’t sound like we are living in the United States where freedom of the press is a right. They sound like propaganda, not a well-reasoned PR approach.

    Lessons to be Learned

    Besides the policy decisions of the Trump administration which may or may not be challenged or partially undone in the mid-term elections or the 2020 election, what will happen? I think Trump’s PR tactics are an aberration and things can change if he loses Congressional power in 2018 or leaves office after 2020 or after 2024.

    Let’s hope no one else who follows him uses the same PR approach.

    Despite all of this, not only has Trump helped boost media circulation and viewership, he and his PR tactics have helped Trump book authors sell a lot of books.


    About the Author: Andrew Blum is a PR consultant and media trainer and principal of AJB Communications. He has directed PR for authors and publishers, professional services and financial services firms, NGOs, agencies and other clients. He recently did PR for a new book, The Real Trump Deal, a look at how Trump negotiates. As a PR executive, and formerly as a journalist, he has been involved on both sides of the media aisle in some of the most media intensive crises of the past 25 years. Contact him at ajbcomms@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter: @ajbcomms




    Now It’s Donald Trump Jr. in the Middle of the Russia Probe

    Andy-Blum-headshotAndrew Blum, Principal, AJB Communications

    What’s the Crisis Strategy and Who’s Next?

    When news broke that Donald Trump Jr. was the latest to come under scrutiny for Trumpworld’s alleged role in colluding with Russia in the 2016 election, it marked the second person in the President’s inner circle dragged into the widening PR and political crisis.

    As President Trump, campaign associates and top advisors have found out, the Russia probe continues in Congress and the Special Counsel’s office no matter how many tweets and denials the administration makes. And the media continues following the story and breaking news as The New York Times did on Donald Jr.

    All Don Jr. had to do was to look to his brother-in-law, Kushner, who recently came under scrutiny after reports he attended a meeting aimed at setting up back channel communications with the Russians. And now Don Jr. is getting the Russia Beltway treatment over a meeting he had with a Russian lawyer linked to the Kremlin in 2016. The agenda: depending on who you believe, was to get dirt on Hillary Clinton or to discuss Russian policy on adoption. Kushner was also reported at the meeting.

    In a crisis, you always want to be honest. But credibility is key and the Trump administration appears to be losing that battle. A majority of Americans believe President Trump has done something either illegal or unethical when it comes to Russia, according to a new NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll. The poll results were reported July 6 on NPR.

    According to the poll, the 54% of people who believe something untoward has gone on include a quarter who believe the president has done something illegal in regards to dealings with Russia, and 29% who think he has done something unethical, but not illegal. Thirty-six percent believe Trump has done nothing wrong. That reflects an increase in the number believing something either illegal or unethical went on compared to a February 2017 Marist survey when 49% thought the president had done something either illegal or unethical regarding Russia.

    To address the charges, Don Jr. hired New York white collar attorney Alan Futerfas, who issued a statement calling the meeting “much ado about nothing.” He said Don Jr. believed he was being offered information about “alleged wrongdoing” by Clinton in dealings with Russia.

    Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-Va.) has already said he wants to hear from Don Jr.

    While all this plays out, the PR and credibility battle continues in the media.

    In an appearance on CNN with Chris Cuomo, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway defended Don Jr.’s meeting with the Russian lawyer. In a 35-minute interview, she said there was “no information provided that was meaningful.”

    “Let’s focus on what did not happen in that meeting,” she said, adding there was “no action taken. Nothing.”

    According to media reports, Don Jr. changed his account when presented with new reporting by the Times. When the paper first reported on the meeting — but not about the promise of information about Democrats — he said it was a “short, introductory meeting” about adoption.

    But when the Times reported about the lawyer offering to provide information about the DNC before he took the meeting, he acknowledged that Democrats and Clinton were discussed.

    Cuomo challenged Conway on the changes in Don Jr.’s story.

    She shot back: “I admire your moxie, sitting there with the CNN chyron next to you.” To which Cuomo replied, “I could not be more proud to have that CNN chyron next to me.”

    No matter the spin, the old Yogi Berra quote prevails here: It ain’t over till it’s over.

    About the Author: Andrew Blum is a PR consultant and media trainer and principal of AJB Communications. He has directed PR for professional services and financial services firms, NGOs, agencies and other clients. As a PR executive, and formerly as a journalist, he has been involved on both sides of the media aisle in some of the most media intensive crises of the past 25 years. Contact him at ajbcomms@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter: @ajbcomms




    Republicans Deal their Leader a Major Defeat in his First Legislative Battle as Donald Trump’s Tower of Cards Collapses (Op-Ed)

    Republicans Deal their Leader a Major Defeat in his First Legislative Battle as Donald Trump’s Tower of Cards CollapsesAndrew Ricci, Vice President, LEVICK

    Over the past 7 years under President Obama, the House of Representatives voted more than 60 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – his signature health care legislation. They used it as a lever to upend Congressional leadership, seizing control of the House, the Senate, and, ultimately, the Presidency. On Friday, under President Trump, with complete control of the legislative and executive branches, they proved they can’t even vote to repeal it once.

    This is, to put it lightly, a really big deal. For seven years, through four congressional and two presidential elections, they have campaigned on a promise to repeal the law outright. And today, all signs from the press conferences given by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and the President himself indicate that the battle is over, and they are conceding defeat. Make no mistake, Obamacare is here to stay for the foreseeable future, dejecting stunned Republicans and delighting Democrats who are finally seeing their big gamble pay dividends as public support for the law rises.

    This is a big defeat for the governing party as a whole, but for President Trump and Speaker Ryan, the consequences of their failure will be exponential. For one, they spent the last several weeks doubling down on a repeal bill that saw its approval rating slide to a paltry 17 percent. As they looked to placate the uber-conservative Freedom Caucus in an attempt to secure their votes, they agreed to cut ten essential health benefits offered by the ACA that have become extremely popular as the bill sped toward implementation, including maternity and newborn care and pediatric services. By making these changes to placate one faction of the party, they completely turned off another. And after punting the bill for a full day after the vote was supposed to happen, by 3:31 on Friday it was completely dead.

    Initial reports on how the bill got pulled were conflicting. Some reported that Speaker Ryan pleaded with the President to pull the bill, and others reported that President Trump made the call. This reflects the harsh reality of life in politics that somebody always has to take the fall and get stuck with the blame. The jury is still out on whether the American people – and, specifically, the constituents who were suckered into believing that a government under complete Republican control could get the job done – will see this as Trump’s failure or Ryan’s.

    Republicans Deal their Leader a Major Defeat in his First Legislative Battle as Donald Trump’s Tower of Cards Collapses Op-EdBut the reports coming out of the decision to abort tell an important story. Speaker Ryan, trying to mediate between and preside over a highly fractured caucus, went to the podium alone. President Trump gave his own statement, separate from the Speaker’s. Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi walked out to the podium flanked by her entire leadership team – a strong sign of unity given the dominant story line of chaos within the Republican caucus.

    I suspect the biggest loser in this, however, is Donald Trump’s reputation as dealmaker-in-chief. His projections of business success and his use of wealth as evidence of smart business tactics – all of which were a core component of his campaign ethos – have really taken a substantial hit. Twitter was abuzz with things the President tweeted prior to his political career and quotes from his book “The Art of the Deal” that undermined his credibility in this area.

    Former Representative John Dingell – who, at 59 years of Congressional service, holds the record for longest Congressional tenure in U.S. history – retweeted one of President Trump’s twitter musings from 2013: “I have never met a successful person that was a quitter. Successful people never, ever, give up!” Well, today Trump and his party gave up.

    Others retweeted sage Trump advice from 2014, where he noted “Young entrepreneurs – Remember that your first deals are the most important of your career. Win & gain confidence.” On his first opportunity to demonstrate dealmaking prowess, the President fell short.

     The Trump White House has attempted in recent hours to pin the blame on Congressional Democrats. This will not work. Republicans now, at long last, have the responsibility of governance, which they are finding is no easy task. And with certain factions in the Republican caucus dejected and others emboldened, it is not going to get easier.

    As they move forward, the Republican caucus is likely to remain divided, which will certainly imperil the rest of their legislative agenda. They will no doubt be eager to change the subject, but until they can heal this tremendous divide, their problems will only become more complicated – not less. Repealing Obamacare was something that every Republican could agree on for seven years, but the devil is in the details. Anyone who thinks tax reform or an infrastructure package will be less fraught with bogies is simply delusional.

    In 2009, while the House of Representatives was voting on the first version of the Affordable Care Act, I was standing right off the floor of the House, waiting for the vote to conclude so I could meet the Representative I was working for and advise him on media strategy. The enthusiasm in the air from Democrats rushing out of the House chamber was palpable. The bars that evening were full of joyful staffers and members, celebrating and toasting the massive undertaking they had just accomplished. We knew the fight was far from over, but we had taken the first step toward a long-held goal.

    I suspect DC pubs will be equally full tonight. Some will be celebrating and some will be mourning, but the bartenders will surely earn their keep. And in the halls of Congress and the White House, strategists will be furiously working to figure out how to put the Trump Tower of Cards back together.

     

    About the Author: Andrew Ricci, Vice President at D.C. communications firm LEVICK.  Andrew, an experienced media relations expert, content-creation specialist, and public affairs strategist, started his career working on political campaigns and on Capitol Hill, serving as a senior communications aide to Rep. Zack Space (D-Ohio) and as the Congressman’s official spokesman during his reelection campaign. At LEVICK, Andrew now counsels a wide range of clients navigating reputational challenges in the public eye. 

     




    #6 MOST-READ in 2017: Donald Trump Rants and Raves at the Press in a Classic Example of Misdirection

    andrewr224By Andrew Ricci, Vice President, LEVICK

    First, some definitions. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, rant (verb) is “to utter in a bombastic declamatory fashion; to talk in a noisy, excited, or declamatory manner; to scold vehemently.” Rave (verb) is “to talk irrationally in or as if in delirium; to speak out wildly; to talk with extreme enthusiasm.”

    When President Trump stood up on Thursday in a press conference, he was bombastic and declamatory. He vehemently scolded the press. And he spoke out wildly for a full hour and 18 minutes. “Tomorrow, they will say, ‘Donald Trump rants and raves at the press,’” he said. And boy, was he right.

    Almost immediately after the press conference was over, journalists weighed in. CNN’s Jake Tapper called it “an airing of grievances” and said it was “unhinged.” Shep Smith from FOX News – a network that has been more friendly than most toward the Trump Administration – railed against it, saying “It’s crazy what we’re watching every day.” And seemingly every journalist in between weighed in with a similar sentiment.

    Monitoring Twitter in the hours after the presser ended, many agreed that it was one of the top five craziest press conferences in modern history – up there with former South Carolina Governor (and current U.S. Representative) Mark Sanford’s press conference announcing that he was not, in fact, hiking the Appalachian Trail but was instead engaging in an illicit affair and former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s press conference admitting to sending lewd photos via Twitter.

    Donald Trump Rants and Raves at the Press in a Classic Example of Misdirection

    (Photo Source: Twitter)

    In short, it was a circus, but it was what we have come to expect from this unorthodox administration.

    Much has been written unpacking the President’s claims from the press conference, and fact checking the easily-disproven falsehoods he pushes from the podium. Here’s the thing, though. The President achieved what I suspect was his ultimate goal, which was change the subject.

    The past few weeks’ revelations about his administration’s close ties to Russia were truly damaging stuff. News that his National Security Advisor had discussed sanctions with his Russian counterpart before the inauguration violated longstanding protocols that dictated the United States has one President at a time.

    Shortly after General Flynn resigned, more news came to light that officials from his campaign had been in contact with Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election in communications that were intercepted by American law enforcement and intelligence agencies. The investigation thus far is classified, so we don’t have all of the details. We don’t know what was discussed or how many of the President’s campaign advisors were talking to the Russians.

    But this had the potential to be a big scandal and was getting wall-to-wall coverage in every form of media. People were throwing around the term “Watergate,” and not as hyperbole. And then, out of nowhere, came “the press conference.”

    Let’s make no mistake: the press conference was juicy and fun to watch. There were almost too many things to cover. And by giving a wealth of things to cover, the President ensured that Russia was unlikely to be one of them.

    Look at Friday’s newspaper front pages. The New York Times had three stories above the fold, two of which were about the presser. The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and Chicago Tribune had similar front page treatments. We are no longer talking about the highly damaging Russia story.

    Ranting and raving is Donald Trump’s modus operandi, and has been since he became a player on the political scene several years ago. During the early years of the Obama Administration he ranted and raved, peddling conspiracy theories about President Obama’s birthplace and religion. During his campaign, he ranted and raved about his opponents. This is what he does. He is who we thought he was. But every time he does it, the media covers his ranting and raving in an almost too self-aware way. Every minute they spend accusing him of ranting and raving plays into his narrative that the media is out to get them, and it’s another minute they aren’t spending covering the real-world impact of his policy proposals and his actions.

    Magicians and con artists alike learn the classic art of misdirection as one of the first lessons of their craft, as it is the foundation for their ability to trick you. Regardless of whether you think the President is a magician or a con artist, we should all stop falling for the trick. It isn’t magic, and we would all be better off paying attention to the coin hidden in the other hand.

     

    About the Author: Andrew Ricci, Vice President at D.C. communications firm LEVICK.  Andrew, an experienced media relations expert, content-creation specialist, and public affairs strategist, started his career working on political campaigns and on Capitol Hill, serving as a senior communications aide to Rep. Zack Space (D-Ohio) and as the Congressman’s official spokesman during his reelection campaign. At LEVICK, Andrew now counsels a wide range of clients navigating reputational challenges in the public eye. 

     




    The Biggest News Story Of 2016: The Twin Phenomena of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders

    underwood200By Chuck Underwood, Founder/Principal, The Generational Imperative, Inc.

    The Biggest News Story Of 2016 is the one the news media have completely missed:  the TRUE, GENUINE “WHY” behind the twin phenomena of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

    Here’s what the news media still haven’t covered but the field of Generational Study now documents.

    The rage by America’s “Bottom 85 Percent” that explains Trump and Sanders has LITTLE to do with their anger at government.

    Instead, the rage that has delivered America its new president (and a longshot Democratic contender who turned out to be not-so-longshot) is targeted at three specific groups:

    (1) corporate executives;

    (2) corporate raiders; and,

    (3) corporate board directors who, over the past two decades, have stripped The Bottom Percents of control of their lives and hurled them into unending job and income uncertainty and instability:

    CEOs have received massive bonuses and raises from their Board directors in part because they laid off U.S. employees and thus cut costs, meaning greater returns for their beloved shareholders.

    Corporate Raiders have bought in to companies, forced the CEOs to either merge with another company and slash jobs or send U.S. jobs overseas only so they could make more – and more – money, with no regard for what they’re doing to their American brothers and sisters who are kicked into the streets with resumés in their hands.

    Board Directors have spinelessly stood for NOTHING except protecting their title as a “board director!” and keeping that average director salary of $253,000 coming in, in exchange for their average of 5 hours of work per week and serving as obsequious yes-men and yes-women to their puppetmaster shareholders.  So those cowardly directors have willingly paid massive corporate fines when their CEOs have gone criminal but have constantly REFUSED TO FIRE THE CEO.  And if you’re the CEO at Wells Fargo, which was just caught cheating millions of customers and fired more than 5,000 employees, you as the CEO do NOT get fired by your directors and, in fact, receive a $134,000,000 check for “retiring”.

    The three American generations that currently dominate the U.S. workforce are Baby Boomers (age in 2017 is 53 to 71), Gen X’ers (age 36 to 52), and Millennials (age 18 to 35).  Their Bottom Percents’ rage, their loss of control of their lives, their disempowerment at the hands of their bosses, and their authentic desperation explain The Biggest News Story Of 2016:  The Rage was directed much less towards Congress or the White House (even as incompetent as they are perceived) and instead at corporate executives, corporate raiders, and corporate board directors.

    And not a single news organization has presented this story with the scope and front-page, above-the-fold urgency that The Biggest News Story Of 2016 deserves.  What a damning indictment of the industry that is supposed to serve a watchdog function….

    About the Author:  Chuck Underwood is one of the half-dozen people who pioneered and then popularized the field of generational study and, with it, generational business strategies.  Nearly thirty years of research.  And many of his original principles are now a permanent part of this field. He is the founder/principal of Ohio-based generational consulting firm The Generational Imperative, Inc. His 2016 book is the most comprehensive presentation of generational business and personal-life dynamics ever published and is entitled: America’s Generations In The Workplace, Marketplace, And Living Room.  In addition, Mr. Underwood is the host of the PBS television mini-series America’s Generations With Chuck Underwood, the first such series in the history of national television. 

     




    Donald Trump – The Earned Media ‘Master’

    david johnsonBy David E. Johnson, CEO, Strategic Vision PR Group

    Donald Trump made the headlines yet again (is anything else new).  This time it was by attacking the media covering his campaign and in particular he attacked ABC’s Tom Llamas.  He said that some of the reporting by the media was libelous.   This latest Trump attack on the media came as a result of a Trump press conference where he named more than several dozen veterans’ groups that he said had received $5.6 million due to his fund-raising and personal generosity.   The press conference itself was a result of reports in the media questioning whether Trump had actually donated to various veterans’ groups as he had promised.  So was this a public relations fiasco for the presumptive Republican presidential nominee or a stroke of genius?  It was the latter.

    The Trump campaign for all of its rhetoric and hijinks resembles the Nixon campaign of 1968.  Like Nixon, Trump ran to the right in the primaries only to begin moving toward the center after securing the delegates needed to win the nomination.  Doubt it?  Just listen to Trump and his key people discussing some of his hard right positions – it is all negotiable they claim – right out of the Nixon playbook.

    A key ingredient of Nixon’s strategy was the idea of media bias.  Nixon catapulted to the national spotlight and earned a place on Dwight Eisenhower’s ticket in 1952 due to media coverage he received from the Alger Hiss case.  Yet his good media coverage ended in 1952 when the media alleged that he had kept an illegal fund (an allegation that nearly forced him off of Eisenhower’s ticket) and due to his attacks against Dean Acheson, Harry Truman, and Adlai Stevenson.  From that point on Nixon’s relations with the media never recovered.  Nixon and the media had a love hate relationship (each needed the other).  This culminated with his infamous last press conference, where he said “you won’t have Dick Nixon to kick around anymore” to reporters.  The media believed that such an attack against them meant the end of his career.  ABC actually aired a special after that called ‘The Political Obituary of Richard Nixon’.  What the media failed to understand was that many Americans agreed with Nixon’s views about the media and it reinforced their loyalty to Nixon (and Republicans showed their distaste for the media even without Nixon on the ballot at the 1964 Republican Convention where the media was attacked as much as Democrats).  Far from being dead politically, six years later Nixon was elected to the White House where he continued to attack the media and earn the loyalty of millions by attacking the media.  Indeed since Nixon, all Republicans have claimed a media bias.

    Donald Trump - The Earned Media 'Master'

    (Photo Source: Twitter)

    For Trump, attacking the media was a winning proposition.  Unlike Nixon who had years of service in supporting Republicans and numerous political IOUs, Trump has none.  Many Republicans question his credentials as a Republican let alone as a conservative.  Even now some Republicans are still looking for a way to stop Trump or run a third party candidate.  So what better way to build loyalty among Republicans and demonstrate he is with them, than to attack the Republican’s favorite bogeyman – the media.   With the media reporting on his attack against them, Trump is helped with Republicans who even if they are lukewarm about him agree with his views on the media.  And not just Republicans but many Americans who feel that today’s media coverage is not fair and balanced and that the media should be held accountable (just see Gawker on that).

    Nixon also believed that attacking the media over their coverage made them extra sensitive to be fair in their reporting on him since they would be analyzed for media bias.  Trump in attacking the media is also ensuring that for him.

    And May 31st was supposed to be a big day for Hillary Clinton who is desperate to end the Bernie Sanders’ challenge and unite Democrats.  Her campaign expected major coverage for her endorsement by California Governor Jerry Brown for the June 7th California primary.  It was also unveiling its latest incarnation of the new and improved Hillary Clinton, this time modeled after Harry Truman.  Yet all of this is lost in coverage of Trump’s attack on the media and the media rebutting his allegations.  Trump wins another news cycle.

    Like him or hate him, Donald Trump knows how to maximize coverage and dominate news cycles.  In this he has no rival.  And while many would never dream of attacking the media Trump stealing a page from the old master’s (Nixon) playbook continues to show the normal rules do not apply to him.

     About the Author:  David E. Johnson is the CEO of Strategic Vision PR Group, a public relations and branding agency that specializes in crisis communications, branding, and media relations.  Additional information on Johnson and Strategic Vision, LLC may be obtained at www.strategicvision.biz.

     

     

     




    Donald Trump’s PR Lessons – CEOs Take Note…

    By David E. Johnson, CEO, Strategic Vision PR Group

    (Image Source: Twitter)

    (Image Source: Twitter)

    Businessman and reality television star, Donald Trump is the Republican nominee for president in 2016. Love Trump or hate him, he has shown on the stump some valuable public relations lessons that CEOs would be wise to copy.  Trump demonstrated:

    1. Consumers will buy a brand that is consistent with its brand story.
    2. The power of social media.
    3. Stay on message no matter what.

    When Trump entered the Republican race for president few took him seriously.  There was much speculation that he was running as a publicity ploy and would not actually qualify.  If he did run, experts stated he would need to refashion himself from the politically incorrect, Donald Trump that everyone knew from the tabloids and Celebrity Apprentice.  Yet he did the complete opposite.  He doubled down on his politically incorrect brand with his feud with FOX’s Megyn Kelly, calls for banning Muslims from entering the United States, and building a wall to keep illegal immigrants out.  Corporate sponsors of Trump’s bailed in the wake of the controversy.  Yet Republican voters loved it and catapulted him into the lead and eventually crowned him as the nominee.  Contrast this with Hillary Clinton who has reinvented herself several times this campaign cycle and has yet to secure the Democratic nomination against Bernie Sanders and has created greater doubts among voters about what she believes.  Being consistent to one’s brand is essential for success.  Consumers buy into a brand’s story and Trump understood that.  Business leaders need to remember that.

    Everyone knows that social media has changed our world.  Large numbers of consumers report getting their news from what they read on social media compared to traditional news.  Trump understood that.  He understood the power of utilizing Twitter to reach voters over the heads of traditional media.  One tweet from Trump received more media coverage than television commercials combined of his top rivals.  Beyond that, Trump utilized a way to connect with voters over the heads of the media and not through traditional advertising but rather via social media.  This created a greater sense of loyalty and feeling of ownership with Trump by voters.  Business leaders need to understand the power of social media that Trump demonstrated and harness it to reach their consumers and rely on it more than just traditional advertising.

    Finally, Trump understood an age old communication lesson, keep your message to just several points and keep referring to it over and over again no matter what happens or what you are asked.  Throughout the campaign, Trump has been consistent with his message to the exasperation of his rivals and the news media.  In debates and interviews regardless of what was asked he referred to his main message points while his rivals were thrown off message consistently.  Business leaders should remember stay on message regardless of what is asked and always make any question fall back to your main message points.

    Donald Trump has reshaped politics in 2016 without a doubt.  But he has also taught some valuable communication strategies that CEOs and business owners should study and utilize.

     About the Author:  David E. Johnson is the CEO of Strategic Vision PR Group, a public relations and branding agency that specializes in crisis communications, branding, and media relations.  Additional information on Johnson and Strategic Vision, LLC may be obtained at www.strategicvision.biz.




    Trending this Week 1.29.16: Donald Trump – Who Needs the Media?; Ketchum at the World Economic Forum

    CommPRO-Trending-This-WeekIn today’s Executive Briefing we take a look at what was trending this week, including Ketchum at the World Economic Forum – Why it Matters and Our Presence Creates Our Impact: Using Mindfulness to Optimize Leadership and Culture.

    As we begin 2016 and start our sixth year of publishing CommPRO, I’d like to take a moment to thank our loyal readers and partners for their continued support. We hope our new readers enjoy CommPRO and welcome your feedback and suggestions so we continue to provide a unique and relevant service. You can reach me at: fay@commpro.biz.

    Click here to view today’s post.




    Donald Trump – Who Needs the Media?

    Neil Foote on Donald TrumpBy Neil Foote, President & Founder, Foote Communications

    Donald Trump GOP Debate

    (Source: Twitter)

    Donald Trump’s “boycott” of the GOP presidential debate validated one key point during this era of digital and social media: You don’t need the “mainstream media” to reach your audience. All you need is a rabid group of followers who will do anything you say wherever you say it, whenever you say it via any form of media you say it.  Who needs a national TV network when you could tweet it to your supporters and have the true network multiplier effect kick in. You might sayTrump and Bernie Sanders borrowed some tricks from the current president Barack Obama.  He defied conventional campaigning standards to rally an angry, disenchanted electorate to organize, donate, and vote.  He built his campaign on a message of “hope and change” via social media and built on that to brand himself as the new guy on the block – in more ways than one.

    Now, enter Donald Trump, the billionaire reality TV star.  His in-your-face message of “change” is reinforced by everyone of his actions.  So why should anyone be surprised that he creates his own event to redirect attention away from the “mainstream” candidates to him? He has been able to use his Twitter account to instantly talk to his 5.9 million followers. He’s proven that he can promote his own positions, lash out at critics and do what Obama did – defy the expectations of media and political analysts who are waiting for him to implode.
    Trump’s success using social media is offering marketers a perfect case study on how a strong brand with a strong, consistent targeted message can generate loyal followers who can be converted to consumers. Trump has even proven that these followers ignore negative attributes, focusing only on a narrow set of positive attributes that reinforce their beliefs.  Trump is sending a message that offers other political candidates – and major brands – an opportunity to avoid “mainstream media” and still create buzz.

    About the Author:  Neil Foote, a veteran journalist and media executive, is a media and political junky, keeping abreast of the latest trends impacting the business of journalism, media, politics and public relations. He draws from his experience at the Miami Herald, Washington Post, Belo Corporation and Tom Joyner’s Reach Media. He also teaches media convergence, media management and public affairs at the University of North Texas’ Frank W. & Sue Mayborn School of Journalism and runs Foote Communications, a media consulting firm. The native of Brooklyn, NY also is a member of the board for the National Black Public Relations Society and founder of PoliticsInColor.com.




    Executive Briefing 12.10.15 – CEOs Can Win The War on Talent; Donald Trump’s Communications Strategy; Secure Results in a Changing Media Landscape

    CommPRO-Executive-BriefingIn today’s Executive Briefing David E. Johnson, CEO, Strategic Vision PR Group examines Donald Trump’s Communications Strategy – Is the End Near?  Also included is a look at How CEOs Can Win The War on Talent with Brian Braudis, President, The Brandis Group Consultants.

    As we celebrate the fifth anniversary of CommPRO, I’d like to take a moment to thank our loyal readers and partners for their continued support. We hope our new readers enjoy CommPRO and welcome your feedback and suggestions so we continue to provide a unique and relevant service. You can reach me at: fay@commpro.biz.

    Click here to view today’s post.

     

     

     

     




    Donald Trump’s Communications Strategy – Is the End Near?

    Editor’s Note:  The is the second part of David Johnson’s analysis of Donald Trump’s media dominance.  Click here to read part one, The Republican Party’s Trump Messaging Strategy – What’s Next?

    david johnsonBy David E. Johnson, CEO, Strategic Vision PR Group

    Businessman and Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump continues to dominate the media as he has since announcing for president.  His latest firestorm is his proposal to ban Muslims seeking to enter the United States.  Trump made his proposal as the focus of the campaign has shifted to terrorism following the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris and San Bernardino, California. Trump’s proposal has created a firestorm with fellow candidates, House Speaker Paul Ryan, former Vice President Dick Cheney, foreign leaders, and the White House all condemning it.  Pundits are predicting this latest from Trump will spell his demise.  Yet despite this, Trump is not backing down and all campaign coverage is about him drowning out his opponents.  So far voters are still backing him and in many ways he seems to have a better understanding of what is motivating voters than experienced politicians.

    Donald Trump's Communications Strategy - Is the End Near

    (Source: Twitter)

    So how should Trump proceed from a communications point on this proposal?

    1. Ignore his critics and stand by his proposal. His proposal is audacious, outrageous, decisive, unrepentant, and brash all in one. It also falls in line with what the Trump brand is all about and why so many voters have bought into it.
    2. Continue in his interviews and the upcoming debates to point out that his plan is no more extreme than Franklin Delano Roosevelt interning Japanese-Americans during World War II. But go beyond that and point out that we are engaged in a real war with radical Islam and during previous times of war that American leaders have gone to extreme – Lincoln suspending habeas corpus during the Civil War and Woodrow Wilson jailing war critics and deporting radicals during World War I.
    3. Point out that the job of the President is to save lives and if his action saves one American life and thwarts one terror attack the price is worth it.
    4. Point out that his proposal is for the duration of the war against ISIS and then will expire.
    5. Point out that the Obama Administration has failed not only to destroy but even contain ISIS.
    6. Emphasize that we are war and war is not pretty or politically correct.
    7. State that he is who he is, he isn’t politically correct but a decisive leader and this is what this nation needs.
    8. Challenge his critics to show a plan that would be foolproof to prevent terrorists from entering the nation.

    Donald Trump has billed his candidacy on the fact that he isn’t politically correct but is a strong leader in a time that America needs just that.  With his master showmanship, he has caught the attention of voters by appealing to them on the issues that matter most to them in language that they understand.  He has shown that he knows the most important rule of communications – know your audience, a fact the other candidates have failed to grasp.  If he communicates his latest proposal convincingly, not only will he be poised to win the Republican nomination but perhaps the White House as well.

     About the Author:  David E. Johnson is the CEO of Strategic Vision PR Group, a public relations and branding agency that specializes in crisis communications, branding, and media relations.  Additional information on Johnson and Strategic Vision, LLC may be obtained at www.strategicvision.biz.




    Executive Briefing 11.9.15 – Donald Trumps His Own Brand; eCommerce Marketers Prepare for the Holidays; Conducting PR Research

    CommPRO-Executive-Briefing

    In today’s Executive Briefing we take a look at how Donald Trumps His Own Brand from Susan Tellem, Partner, Tellem Grody PR, Inc.  Also included are Five Ways eCommerce Marketers Can Prepare for the Holiday Shopping Season from Erika Jolly Brookes, Chief Marketing Officer, Springbot.

    As we celebrate the fifth anniversary of CommPRO, I’d like to take a moment to thank our loyal readers and partners for their continued support. We hope our new readers enjoy CommPRO and welcome your feedback and suggestions so we continue to provide a unique and relevant service. You can reach me at: fay@commpro.biz.

    Click here to view today’s post.

     

     

     

     

     




    Donald Trumps His Own Brand

    susan-telllem-headshotBy Susan Tellem, Partner, Tellem Grody PR, Inc.

    After watching Saturday Night Live (SNL) for most of its 41 years, I can say with certainty that it is rude, crude and often hilarious. Producer Lorne Michaels has pretty much free rein on who hosts the show, so NBC left him alone when he invited Republican POTUS hopeful and front runner Donald Trump to host this past Saturday night. Did Trump help or hurt his brand by doing the show?  I say neither.

    Donald Trumps His Own Brand

    (Source: Twitter)

    Unlike some, I am enjoying watching the spectacle that is “the Donald.” He’s not the politician that we expect to run for president, which is precisely why many Americans like him. They are tired of the endless loop of Bushes, Clintons and Kennedys. They want someone who can run the country like a business instead of the government they see failing the middle class. People also enjoy watching people make fun of themselves. So for Trump to host SNL again was a good strategy.  Why not; other presidential hopefuls and presidents have hosted as well. To think of this as a campaign stop is silly. Anyone who is at all politically savvy already loves or hates Trump.

    A Hispanic coalition, unhappy with Trump’s remarks about immigration and other comments it deemed racist, offered $5,000 for someone to yell from the audience, “Trump’s a racist.” Larry David did, and while it fell flat as a joke, it is the typical type of SNL response to the coalition’s challenge.

    While I didn’t think the sketches with Trump were particularly funny – in my opinion, the show has gone downhill from the days of Dan Aykroyd, Jane Curtin, Steve Martin and Gilda Ratner, among others – it’s likely they had little effect on his brand. Celebrities and politicians who make fun of themselves generally curry public favor, not the opposite.

    In August, Time magazine suggested five reasons why Trump’s brand is so powerful – he’s an outlaw, creator of wealth, symbol of success, feels authentic, and he speaks his mind. Some people don’t like those traits and some do. Nonetheless, for those reasons his brand is strong. For those unsuccessfully trying to torpedo it, I can hear his late dear friend and comedienne Joan Rivers say, “Oh, grow up!”


    Susan M. Tellem, APR, is a partner with Tellem Grody PR, Inc. (Los Angeles). Her agency specializes in entertainment and crisis management, but stays away from politics. For more information, visit www.tellemgrodypr.com and follow her on twitter @susantellem.