What Place Should A Candidate’s Character Play In Voting For A Politician? My Appraisal Of A Few Presidents Character, And Why I Distrust Trump And Voted For Biden

How To Lose The Presidential Election, Again

(Author’s Note: This is the 11th in a series of political articles for CommPRO.biz that I’ll be writing 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 why I believe that voting only on policy matters can result in electing a flawed president.)

 Arthur Solomon

All during this election season, and those of the past, the subject that most dominates political talk are the issues that separate candidates.

What is hardly mentioned is the character of a candidate. (Oxford Dictionaries definition of character: The mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.) 

This year’s election is unique. A candidate’s moral values might be the deciding factor in who people elect. But as in past elections to many voters it doesn’t mean beans.

As an individual whose first job in public relations was with what today would be called a boutique PR firm, I know that for many political operatives’ character and issues mean very little. What matters to those operatives are who they are currently working for. Like large service firms who might have staff working for opposing interests, some political firms have staffers who work for Republican and Democratic candidates, proving for them it’s the money that counts, not the moral fiber of the candidates.

But, in my opinion, not taking into consideration a candidate’s character can lead to disastrous outcomes.

The first presidential campaign I worked on was for Richard Nixon. I thought many of his policies were what the country needed signing into law the civil rights act of 1970 that extended voting rights protection to  minorities, launching a war on cancer, initiating or approving the Environmental Protection Agency, the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Water Pollution Control Act, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Office of Consumer Affairs, Amtrak and “revenue sharing” with local governments. Today, he’d be called a socialist or worse by the current Republican president.

I still believe that Nixon’s political accomplishments would have given him a place among the greatest of our presidents – except for one important reason: A lack of character. And to me that’s important because candidate’s who lack principles are willing to win at any cost, even destroying their perceived enemies with false accusations, as Nixon and Joe McCarthy did. As a young politician in California Nixon threw around the word “subversive” as frequently as a chef in a diner flips a hamburger. Winning at all costs mattered to him. As president, he had his “enemies list,” which included names of his political opponents and, of course, his involvement in the Watergate affair, which led to his resignation.

Even though I supported many of Nixon’s political stances, would I have been a fan of his if I knew about his character flaws – I don’t think so, because I believe that a candidate who wants to win at any cost is as dangerous as having a tiger as a house pet. You never know when it will decide not to like you.

Contrasting Nixon was President Jimmy Carter, whose presidency in terms of accomplishment was zero, when compared to Nixon’s. But Carter has one attribute that Nixon, whose character changed according to the phases of the moon, lacked.  Carter had character. Whether you agreed with him on political matters or not, and I am not a fan of his administration, you knew that he wouldn’t stick a knife in your back if you disagreed with him. The same goes for President Barack Obama, an obsession with our current characteristically-flawed president.

But that’s history. In a few days most of the nation’s voters will go to the polls. Will character play a part for whom they cast a ballot? Probably not for too many voters. In my opinion it should.

Here’s why:

Trump: During my lifetime I have met what I call “users and givers.” “Users” are people who are nice to you only when they think you can help them. “Givers” are people who excuse the actions of “users.” Thus, they are taken advantage of. President Trump, by his actions goes further than merely being a “user.” It’s impossible to classify his personality with one word because he’s an egotistical, narcissistic, egomaniacal, narrow-minded, self-interested flawed person. In addition, he has a “continuous lying personality disorder,” to coin a phrase. And don’t take my word that he can’t be trusted. Just google the list of people who he has fired or disparaged because they had the audacity, in his flawed mind, to not agree with him. 

When he was asked if re-elected he would do anything different by Savannah Guthrie during the October 15 town hall, he said, he did nothing wrong. “I’ve done a great job. We have the strongest economy in the world. We closed it up. We are coming around the corner. The vaccines are coming out soon, and our economy is strong. We are at a level with jobs like we’ve never been before. We’ve rebuilt our military. We’ve rebuilt our borders. We had no borders. We had no nothing. We’ve rebuilt so much. We’ve given you the greatest tax cut in the history of our country. Greatest regulation cut, equally as important. And we created new levels of jobs that nobody thought was possible. And next year is going to be better than ever before.” Trump’s answer includes so many lies that’s enough of a reason to vote against him. (Check out the facts of what he said. Don’t take the word of your favorite pundit. And you’ll see for yourself his lies.)

Trump cannot be trusted. That was reason enough for me to vote against hm.

Biden: In contrast to Trump, Biden, over the years, has shown that he is a good, caring, empathic person. As someone who has had to overcome a stuttering problem he gives his personal telephone number to others who stutter to try to help them. And after the October 15 town hall, instead of rushing off the stage once the cameras were turned off, he remained behind to answer questions from the audience who hadn’t had the opportunity to question him during the telecast. While I disagree with some of his political decisions in the past, he is not afraid to say that he was wrong, unlike Trump who throughout his town hall showed that despite the evidence showing he was wrong about the coronavirus, refused to admit he made a mistake and still will not admit that he was ever wrong about anything. But being empathetic is not enough of a reason to vote for a candidate. Unlike Trump, Biden’s policy proposals will help the great majority of Americans. Trump’s helps the wealthiest.

Biden has demonstrated time-and time again that he has the character trait that should be most important to voters – he can be trusted.  

With Biden you know what you will get as president. With Trump, his four years show what you will get if he is re-elected – me first government.

The two most flawed presidents during my lifetime are Richard Nixon and Donald Trump, but there is no comparison between the two. Nixon did what he though was best for the country; Trump does what he thinks is best for himself.

That’s why even though Joe Biden was not my first choice for president, or my second or third either, I enthusiastically voted for him. By his actions he has shown that he can be trusted. He has character. Trump doesn’t and can’t be trusted.

I’m not the only person who believes that a candidate’s character should be considered before voting. Never before have so many hundreds of former government workers, some at the highest levels, including important Republican officials and high-ranking military officers, have publicly thrown their support to a political candidate. It’s not that they approve of Biden’s policies. It’s because that they believe that a president without moral values is a danger to the country. And so do I.


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.




Using Social Science to Explain the Behavior of Trump and His Followers

Author’s note: This article reflects my interview with John Dean about his and Bob Altemeyer’s book, Authoritarian Nightmare: Trump and His Followers. I was unable to speak with other sources or people from the Trump or Biden camps, so this article is not intended to be a complete analysis of the extremely broad topic. Rather, I hope that readers will digest this thoroughly and, on whichever side of the aisle you may sit, feel the irrepressible urge to vote.


Wendy Glavin, Founder & CEO, Wendy Glavin Agency

I recently had the chance to speak with John W. Dean, former White House counsel for President Richard Nixon, who testified before Congress during the Watergate scandal and pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice.

In January 2020, The Hill reported that Dean’s lengthy statement was a devastating indictment of President Nixon. At the time, Senator Howard Baker wanted to prove Dean wrong and asked, “My primary thesis is still, what did the president know, and when did he know it?”

Now, with the presidential election only two weeks away, this same question, with logical corollaries, has been repeatedly posed to Trump about his last negative COVID-19 test. What did he know? When did he know it? Did he knowingly expose big money donors to the virus without warning them of the potential health risks? To date, there’s been no response.

Other unanswered questions on a broader scale are, why the CDC’s request for contact tracing was denied, why medical experts and public health guidance are being ignored, why the virus is spiking, and how masks and social distancing have become a political positioning statement rather than the basic health safeguards that they are?

Beyond COVID concerns, there’s widespread social unrest, a sharp divide between whites and people of color and the panoply of frequently discussed issues that have characterized this presidency: healthcare, fake news, conspiracy theories, the economy, climate change and the future of democracy.

In Authoritarian Nightmare: Trump and His Followers, Dean and Bob Altemeyer analyze the social science behind authoritarianism to explain the President’s rise to power, what drives his actions and why his base continues to be faithful to him despite actions which, in another time may have been considered egregious offenses for someone holding the esteemed office.

I asked Dean if he thought his book would change people’s minds. “People are locked in. By and large, we’re not going to change their minds, but we want to inform people and urge them to get out and vote,” he said.

Like clinical psychologists and psychiatrists, the authors analyze Trump’s moral upbringing, his schooling, personality, his business dealings and his uniquely loyal supporters.

Altemeyer is the author of The Authoritarians and Enemies of Freedom: Understanding Right-Wing Authoritarianism. His body of 40 years of research on the psychological makeup of authoritarian leaders and followers, his development of the Right Wing Authoritarian (RWA) test and scale and his concentration on authoritarianism have made him a leading expert in the field.

Dean, of course, has first-hand experience about the inner workings of the White House, specifically during the Nixon presidency, the Watergate scandal and decades in politics which he covers in his books: Blind Ambition: The White House Years, Lost Honor: The Rest of the Story, Worse Than Watergate: The Secret Presidency of George W. Bush and Conservatives Without Conscience.

Together, the authors’ combined expertise attempts to show us how to make sense of Trump’s base. Their research centers around three different types of authoritarian personalities:

  • Social Dominators who are determined to gain power;
  • Authoritarian Followers who are fearful and blindly follow leaders who they believe will protect them and
  • Double Highs who are a combination of the most disturbing traits of dominators and followers.

A core test utilized in the book is Altemeyer’s Right-Wing authoritarian scale created in the 1980s. To more closely represent registered voters for the 2020 election, Dean, Altemeyer and the Monmouth University Polling Institute worked together in late 2019 to include questions in a nationwide survey of 1,000 registered voters.

The goal was to identify respondents with authoritarian tendencies including extreme conservative values, radical progressiveness, prejudices, religious fundamentalism, evangelism and others.

The authors relied on social science findings and psychological diagnostic tools including the “Power Mad Scale” and the “Con Man Scale” as well as analysis from the Monmouth University Polling Institute. They uncover the attitudes and behaviors that characterize social dominators such as: opposition to authority, amoral tendencies, high prejudice, desire for personal power and behaviors that are manipulative, dishonest, intimidating and bullying.

Interestingly, the findings were assimilated in 2005 by Dean before he even knew of Trump. With the caveat that surveys can be biased or reveal overgeneralizations, Dean concluded that Trump’s followers tend to be people who lack critical thinking skills, possess compartmentalized thinking, use double standards and are ethnocentric, dogmatic and militant in their views.

The first half of Trump’s presidency was dominated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russia’s role in the 2016 election, which ended in 2019 when the Mueller Report was sent to General William Barr.

On April 26, 2019, Dean met with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi while he was well into analyzing Trump’s behavior for the project. He told Pelosi, “Madam Speaker, Donald Trump is a public version of the private Richard Nixon. These men are authoritarian personalities. You can count on Trump engaging in worse behavior than that which Mueller reported, and that behavior may call out for impeachment, which will be appropriate.”

At that time, Trump and former New York City Mayor Rudy Guiliani were allegedly involved in a scheme to extort the newly elected President of Ukraine. Trump was, of course, acquitted by the Senate, with the vote predictably following party lines with the notable exception of Senator Mitt Romney.

This is only one example of the many scandals that have occurred. With the election fast approaching, the authors describe several possible tactics that Trump will likely use and continue to use in the final weeks of his re-election campaign:

  • Fear and loathing
  • Smearing Biden
  • Creating Democratic disarray
  • Targeting the undecideds
  • Suppressing voters
  • Undermining validity of mail-in voting

Four more years of President Trump will see the destruction of the Constitution as the foundation of our country. He and his authoritarian supporters will have undercut and overpowered the protections against absolute rule that George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Alexander Hamilton and the other founders of the United States fought for.

It was the overriding goal to keep the country from ever having a king. Yet, a re-elected Donald Trump in 2021 would feel as powerful as James I, who believed he was appointed by God, or Louis XIV, who simply said, ‘I am the State.’

The authors leave us with an urgent plea:

This November 2020 is the biggest election of our lives. The Constitution, the rule of law and American democracy. America has not stood so clearly at a fork since the 1860s. The route laid out by our founders is clearly marked. The other road has dangerous signs of leading us in that direction.

We all have a rendezvous with destiny once again to see if our government of the people, by all the people, and for all the people that will cherish from the earth.


#SXSW - Wendy GlavinAbout the Author: Wendy Glavin is Founder and CEO of Wendy Glavin, a NYC full-service agency. Wendy is a 30-year veteran of corporate, agency, consulting and small business ownership. She specializes in B2B2C marketing communications, executive writing, PR and social media advisory. Her website is: https://wendyglavin.com/. Contact her at: wendy@wendyglavin.com

 




OP-Ed: Trump Unmasked: Save Our Democracy. If You Don’t Like Biden, Vote Against Trump (Early Voting Has Commenced; It’s Now Up To You

A great Democracy

“A great democracy has got to be progressive or it will soon cease to be great or a democracy.” — Theodore Roosevelt.

(Author’s Note: This is the ninth in a series of political articles for CommPRO.biz that I’ll be writing 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 why American democracy is at stake in this election and why, even though at one time I worked on Republican presidential campaigns at a GOP public relations firm, I have become a Never Trumper because of his lies, racist comments and disgraceful conduct, which began on the day he announced for the presidency and continues as you read this. The opinions in this article are entirely mine and do not reflect the beliefs of anyone on the ComPRO.biz staff) 

 Arthur Solomon

Many years ago, a Wall Street lawyer with whom I was acquainted, when I toiled at Burson-Marsteller, asked me why I was going to vote Democratic in a presidential election. I told him because of the Supreme Court. “But the great majority of Supreme Court decisions only affect business practices,” he said, “and all the talk about how Republicans are going to appoint judges whose decisions will affect individuals is nothing but political talk. You take politics too seriously,” he said. How times have changed.

Also, more recently, I was accused by a reader of my columns of being too immersed in politics and being a “Trump hater,” which is not true. Hate implies an emotional reaction to an individual. I certainly don’t hate Trump as a person. I have never met him and the only thing he has thus far done to affect me personally is to sign a tax bill that caused me financial harm, but I would have to have an ego bigger than the president to think that bill was signed just to injure me. 

So I am not “Trump hater.” I definitely do not wish him any personal harm, only that he is not re-elected and if found guilty of financial misdoings after he leaves office is treated like people without influence would be.

I admit that I am a political junkie. I always have been, probably because I am a student of history (and at one time considered becoming a history teacher). And as some people might know my first job in public relations was with a political PR firm, which represented Republican candidates. I strategized publicity approaches for a variety of candidates. I worked on statewide, congressional and presidential campaigns. I left that firm when I received an offer to manage a large division of a non-political firm, prior to being recruited by Burson-Marsteller.

A more accurate description of my feeling toward President Trump would be a “Trump policy detester,” and I readily admit that.  

I also believe that in the Age of Trump, people should take politics very seriously because I believe he has already shown that he is a threat to democracy. (His far right actions mirror those of the far left, both of whom think that only they are correct.)

Unlike most people, who political experts say grow more conservative as they age, I have become more liberal. But I am not a knee-jerk liberal. I still vote for some Republican candidates on the local level (but not too often, as the party has become way too conservative for me and even for the policies of the last GOP president I respected, until I didn’t respect him, Nixon. (If he wasn’t paranoid and trusted people he’d probably be considered one of our better presidents. But, alas, he was a crook.)

In three weeks, give or take a day, depending on when this is published, the future of the American Experiment in having people chose their presidents according to the Constitution will be at stake. 

Early voting has recently commenced in some states. In order to save our democracy, I urge an anti-Trump vote. As for myself, in this year’s election as I did in 2016, I will again enthusiastically cast my ballot against President Trump and for democracy.

Here’s why:

Just A Few Reasons 🙁 Space limitations prevent me from listing more.) 

  • He refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the election. That is enough of a reason to vote for his removal, but wait, there are more reasons.
  • His rhetoric has resulted in a divided country not seen since the Civil War.
  • He has turned the government into a family business, giving important assignments to his daughter and son-in-law.
  • He has totalitarian instincts.
  • His remarks, tweets and public relations initiatives are similar to those used by fascists and dictators.
  • He fires advisors who don’t agree with him.
  • He has hindered our military preparedness because of his monumental ego. Remember when he said, “I know more about ISIS than the generals do.” Well, he obviously also feels that he knows more about the Navy than the admirals do. An August 17 Wall Street Journal story reminded me that he has had four Navy secretaries in a year, hurting planning for a “beefed up military presence to challenge Beijing’s claims in Asia.”
  • He has fired Inspector Generals of various governmental agencies to stifle their investigations of him.
  • He has attacked our democratic allies and praised our totalitarian enemies.
  • He accuses people who disagree with him as being un-American,  members of his imagined “deep state,” or being unpatriotic, even though he received five deferments during the Vietnam War, and his lawyer said Trump concocted a fake injury to avoid going to Nam saying, “You think I’m stupid, I wasn’t going to Vietnam.”
  • He attempts to show his patriotism by lying that he is the only president who has refused a presidential salary, even though Herbert Hoover and John Kennedy did the same.  (JFK also refused a salary as a member of the House and Senate.)
  • He has consistently attacked government institutions like the FBI, and our intelligence agencies because he doesn’t like their findings.
  • He has attacked our judicial system.
  • He has advocated criminal prosecutions of his political enemies.
  • He has used his pardon power to reward his political allies who have broken the law.
  • He has threatened the freedom of the press by suggesting new libel laws because he doesn’t like some of their reporting.
  • He has revoked the press credentials of White House correspondents whose coverage is critical of him.
  • He celebrated when Ali Velshi of CNN was injured while covering a protest, saying it was a “beautiful thing,” thus encouraging physical violence against media he disagrees with.
  • He has attempted to prevent the publication of books that criticize him.
  • In addition to being vindictive, he is childish and petty, removing pictures of presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton from the White House’s Grand Foyer into a little used room, breaking a tradition that the most recent presidents’ official portraits are displayed in the most prominent places. 
  • He has used military style tactics against peaceful protesters.
  • He has defended anti-Semitic, neo-Nazi and white supremist groups, saying they include good people.
  • He said that American citizens who are protesting racial injustice are comparable to Nazis, fascists, communists and terrorists.
  • He is a racist by his actions and comments.
  • He has revived the “birther” movement by questioning if Kamala Harris meets the constitutional requirement to run as vice-president.
  • He has berated institutions like NASCAR that has decided to ban the Confederate flag, the battle flag of a rebellion against the U.S. at its venues.
  • His rants are about saving the statues of dead Confederates who fought against the U.S., ignoring the Americans who have died during the coronavirus pandemic and those who have survived.
  • He believes that he is above the law.  
  • He deliberately attempts to divide the nation among rich and poor, whites and people of color, resulting in culture wars. 
  • Just as Putin did when he sent invading troops to Crimea in 2014 without identifying insignia, Trump, in a classic totalitarian move, ordered armed federal agents in military camouflage, without identifying insignias, using batons against protesters and pulling others into unmarked vehicles without telling them the reason for detaining them, against the wishes of elected local officials, fomenting what might be the long- predicted constitutional crisis because of Trump’s authoritarian- like actions.
  • He ignored intelligence reports that the Russians were paying bounties for killing American troops in Afghanistan. 
  • He is a compulsive liar.
  • He is incapable of telling the truth. According to the Washington Post fact checkers, he has lied or made misleading statements more than 20,000 times. (It’s safe to say that when he tells the truth it’s “Fake News.”) (Some of his lies are so outrageous that it appears he adopted The Big Lie propaganda technique that Adolf Hitler described in his 1925 book Mein Kampf; about the use of a lie so outrageous that no one would believe it wasn’t true. At least the president didn’t say what would have been his biggest lie: “I am not a lair.”)
  • He has revived the evils of McCarthyism by attacking anyone who disagrees with him as “enemies within.”

    He refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the election.

    He encourages violence by his supporters. Examples:

    • Tweeting insurrection against state governments by exhorting people to “liberate” their states, and tweeting a video showing one of his supporters yelling “white power” at a political rally. (“White power” is the phrase used by white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups. The racist video showed a man in a golf cart bearing “Trump 2020” and “America first” signs, according to the New York Times. The tweet also received coverage in the conservative Wall Street Journal and many other media venues.)
    • He has encouraged supporters at his rallies to rough up    hecklers by saying, “I will pay for your court costs.”
    • He has told police to not be so gentle with people they arrest.
    • He makes and tweets inflammatory statements.
    • He has encouraged his supporters to engage in violence, and has increased racial tensions, lauding the efforts of his supporters during a clash in Portland, Ore., during which a person was killed. 
    • He has refused to heed the pleas of local officials to stay away from cities in which there were protests because his presence will inflame the situation.
    • He has said that intelligence reports abut Russians paying bounties to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan is a hoax, as he has done many times, brushing aside intelligence reports pointing a finger at Putin.
    • He believes what totalitarian rulers like Putin tell him rather than our own intelligence sources.
    • He is a disseminator of conspiracy falsehoods. When asked for specifics he always says “they are under investigations.”

      He refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the election.

      He is a poor example of a human being. Examples:

      • He has mocked people with disabilities.
      • He has insulted parents of American soldiers killed in action because of their race.
      • He has insulted American prisoners of war by saying about the late Sen. John McCain, He’s not a war hero,”

      (Trump said of McCain at an event in Iowa in 2015. “He (McCain) was a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”)

      He refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the election.

      He has said that the coronavirus is a Democratic hoax. Examples:

      • He has lied about the extent of the coronavirus and mismanaged the response to it.
      • He is responsible for the deaths of countless thousands of people by disseminating his fabulist medical advice and misinformation about the virus.
      • He is responsible for countless deaths from the virus by encouraging people to disregard the advice of medical/scientists. (As of this writing on October 14, 216, 632 Americans have died from Covid-19 and 7, 907, 677 have been infected by it, according to the John Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center.)
      • He has encouraged people to attend his rallies during times that the virus was spreading.
      • He has blocked Dr. Anthony Fauci, America’s top infectious disease expert from testifying at a Congressional hearing and from doing TV interviews because he doesn’t like what Fauci says about the spread of the coronavirius.
      • He has prevented the head of the CDC from testifying before Congress.
      • He has suspended telecasts of the White House coronavirus task force because the comments of medical scientists contradict his statements that the virus is under control and subsiding, even though it was spreading in Western and Southern states.
      • He is a hypocrite: He gets tested multiple times daily, it has been reported, for the coronavirus but publicly says that testing is overrated.
      • In the midst of the worst health outbreak in recent history he has attempted to outlaw Obamacare, which would leave many citizens without health insurance.
      • He continually disseminates untruths about the extent and severity of people infected with the conornvirus, (like saying that 99% of the cases are harmless) despite statistics and scientific evidence to the contrary. 
      • He has put his supporters at the risk of being infected by the coronavirus by urging them to attend his rallies without requiring social distancing or wearing masks, while saying he is not afraid of being infected because he is not close to those attending.
      • He has officially notified the World Health Organization that the U.S. will withdraw from it, when international cooperation is necessary to eradicate the coronavirus.
      • He has made stupid comments about the coronavirus:
      • He said that drinking disinfectants could destroy the virus. (If you mix it with vodka, your breath won’t have an after drink odor, if you have a breath left in your body).
      • He said that the reason for the virus uptick in Western and Southern states was because of increased testing.  (That’ like saying if you don’t go to a doctor you won’t get sick.)
      • It wasn’t until July 21, after more than 150,000 Americans died and more than six months since the first coronavirus case was reported in the U.S. that he said we are developing a very powerful plan to fight the virus.
      • He has endangered the lives of young children by telling his followers to send children to school because, “It’s incredible how the — it’s very unique how the children aren’t affected,” despite medical scientists disagreeing.
      • His administration has pushed for the CDC to alter its scientific research reports in a manner that is favorable to the president.
      • He has pushed medical scientists to declare that the virus is under control and that a vaccine will be available “soon,” (saying he will have a surprise by Election Day) even though the scientists continually say that is highly unlikely, once again proving that Trump’s concern is about his re-election and not the American people. (His optimistically inaccurate statements have caused the vaccine producers to publicly say they will not ask for government approval of a vaccine until it has been proven scientifically safe. In a lengthy September 1 article, that began on page one and continued for an entire inside page, even the conservative pro-Trump Wall Street Journal criticized the president for his mishandling of the coronavirus. The article was headlined ‘Try Getting It Yourselves’: How Administration Sowed Supply Chaos. (causing problems that persist.)

      He refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the election.

      He puts his own interest above the interest of the country he has sworn to protect. Examples:

      • He uses the presidency as his own piggy bank.
      • He has asked the U.S. Ambassador to England to have the British Open played at his venue.
        He has attempted to have the Scottish Open played at one of his venues.
        He has had U.S. officials and other government employees stay at one of his resorts while on government business.
      • He has attempted to have international governmental meetings held as one of his proprieties.
      • He is consumed, in the midst of two major problems facing the U.S. – the coronavirus situation and the faltering economy – with the names of ball clubs. 
      • His thinking is like a man of the 1920’s, when this country desperately needs a person of the 2020’s.  
      • On August 13, Trump and Larry Kudlow, his economic adviser, both publicly said that they were against providing funds to enable people from voting from by mail during the pandemic because as Kudlow said on CNBC “that’s not our game.” Earlier in the day the president said the same thing, using different words, during a Fox Business interview. (Obviously their game is to limit the voting by denying people who are afraid to vote in person during a deadly pandemic by preventing mail-in ballots as much as possible.)
      • He has attempted to rig the election in his favor by withholding funds needed by the post office to ensure prompt delivery of mail-in ballots.
      • He has said mail-in ballots are fine in Republican-leaning states, but are being manipulated and used by false voters in states with Democratic governors.
      • As he did in 2016, prior to his being elected, he is again claiming that if he loses it will be because of a rigged election.
      • Alarmingly, as he did during the 2016 election, Trump said during Chris Wallace’s July 19 show, that if defeated he did not know whether he would accept the results of the current election.
      • On September 2, in a North Carolina speech, he said his voters should attempt to rig the system by attempting to vote twice, essentially encouraging them to commit a felony.

      He refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the election.

      (Only space limitations prevent me from listing additional reasons to vote against Trump.)

      Why I Believe People Should Take Politics Seriously In The Age Of Trump:

      • I believe Trump is a threat to our democracy and should be defeated. 
      • Former veep Joe Biden was not my first choice to be the Democratic presidential candidate. He was not even my second choice. But I will vote for him enthusiastically because, even though I have disagreed with some of his political decisions over the years, he is a decent, caring person, who believes that liberty and justice belongs to everyone. Conversely, President Trump, who has used military style force against peaceful protesters, has urged his supporters to storm state houses by telling them “liberate your state,” and has repeatedly instructed members of his administration to violate the law by disregarding legal subpoenas. 

      I believe a second term Trump will be even worse than during his present term because he wouldn’t have to worry about re-election.

      Joe Biden, if elected, will respect our Constitution. And President Trump, by his speech and actions, shows that he has totalitarian instincts and doesn’t care about the Constitution.

      In 2016, many voters who did not like Hillary Clinton stayed home, resulting in Trump barely winning in enough states to give him an Electoral College victory. Many self-proclaimed progressives (self-proclaimed because the word progressives has different meanings to different people) are upset that Sen. Sanders did not win the nomination in 2016 and 2020. It’s essential that they do not stay home on November 3 or fail to vote by mail. (Anti-Trump voters should not make that mistake again. Just because in the 2018 election Democrats upset some GOP congressmen in strong Republican districts does not mean that will happen in 2020, when the vote turnout will be greater, as it always is in presidential elections. And even if the upsets occur again, it’s important to remember that does not necessarily mean that the entre state will vote Democratic. Trump can once again lose the popular vote and win in the Electoral College.) In 2016, Trump’s silent majority spoke in the assumed Democratic states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin, winning him the presidency. If you’re a Biden supporter, don’t be part of the silent majority that believes the election is in the bag and stay home. Vote. 

      Above all, voters who are still undecided should not be taken in by the negative Trumpkin tropes that Biden is a captive of the “socialist elements” of the Democratic Party. That is a lie, as are the GOP tropes that the socialists now control the party. There are so few socialist/ democrats in the party that they couldn’t even field a baseball team.

      And the way Trump is attacking Biden’s age and health is ridiculous. By Election Day, the president will be close to 74½- years-old. In addition, he refuses to release his medical records and, maybe, is recovered from Covid-19. In June, 2020, Trump weighed 244 pounds, one pound more than when he had his last physical. At 6 feet, three inches tall that puts him over the threshold for obesity set by the U.S. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, Bloomberg news reported. (As an individual who has battled a weight problem for years, adding a pound is not “the accepted method of losing weight,” a doctor once told me.)

      In 1949, George Orwell wrote a fictionalized novel about a society whose rulers wanted to control everything. Today, proponents of democracy of the left and right, often equate the plot of the book with Trump’s actions. Since the Age of Trump, the book can be reclassified as “historical fiction.” For readers who prefer more recent books about the dangers to democracy that have been unleashed since the election of Trump, there are Surviving Autocracy, The Demagogue’s Playbook and Let Them Eat Tweets. All of these books provide reasons why now, more than ever, it is necessary for everyone who believes in our Constitution and Bill of Rights to always be on the guard against Trump-like candidates in the future, and to vote against Trump on November 3. Demagogues like Trump have been part of the American scene in the past and surely will again be in the future. 

      Polls have shown that many voters who are not fond of Biden will vote for him because they don’t think Trump merits a second term. But if you’re a voter who is thinking of staying home on Election Day, don’t do so. Even if you are not enamored of the former veep, if you want to protect our democracy, vote Biden. If not you might again help elect a totalitarian-inclined president whose admiration for totalitarian dictators is unquestioned.

      He refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the election.

      Here’s what five true conservatives have said of Trump: (Space limitations prevents me from listing more.) 

      • In the July 4 New York Times, conservative columnist Bret Stephens, in just five words, said why I believe Trump must be defeated, when he described him as an “instinctual fascist, a wannabe autocrat.”
      • Steve Schmidt, who has become a vocal critic of President Trump despite his long history as a GOP strategist said, “The Republican Party is becoming the home to an amalgam of conspiracy theorists, fringe players, extremists and white nationalists that is out in the open in a startling way.”
      • Shortly prior to the opening of the Democratic Convention on August 17, Miles Taylor, the one of the highest former senior member in the Trump administration, endorsed Biden. Taylor, the former Department of Homeland Security chief of staff said that the president turned the DHS into “a tool for his political benefit” focusing on issues that Trump believed would help his re-election without giving consideration to the potential effects of his decisions. He said what he witnessed in the Trump administration was “terrifying,” and that the country was less secure as a direct result of the president’s actions.

        For many political junkies, including me, the most awaited aspect of the first night of the Democratic Convention was what former Congressman and Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a major figure for many years in the Republican Party would say. Kasich compared the character difference between Trump and Biden, calling the president a divider and Biden a uniter, saying that the former vice-president is what the country needs at this time. He said the stakes in this election are greater than in any modern times. (Kasich was introduced by former GOP Congresswoman Susan Molinari.) 

        There is no longer a traditional living Republican Party. Trump killed it. The right of center Republicans and moderates and, yes, liberals, have retired or left the party. What is left is a far right radical party, disguised as the Republicans, that kowtows to an autocratic -inclined president who threatens the democratic traditions of our country.

        In my opinion, there are two distinct and different important issues that people should consider before voting.

        • The handling of the coronavirus, and
        • Protecting our democracy.

        If we lose our democracy the first bullet fades from importance.

        Trump said, “This is the most important election in our history.” He’s right. Save Our Democracy. If You Don’t Like Biden, Vote Against Trump

        Remember, he refused numerous times to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses the election.

        I began this column with a quote from a Republican named Roosevelt. Here’s a quote from a Democratic president named Roosevelt. “I venture the challenging statement that if American democracy ceases to move forward as a living force, seeking day and night by peaceful means to better the lot of our citizens, fascism will grow in strength in our land.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt.

         A belief of my own.

        A president who speaks fondly of totalitarian dictatorships can not be trusted to defend our democratic traditions. And President Trump fits the description.


        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 (at) optimum.net.




        The Consequences of Misinformation: Trump Largest Disseminator of False COVID-19 Information

        Helio Fred Garcia

        Last week Cornell University’s Alliance for Science published the first comprehensive study of Coronavirus misinformation in the media, and concluded that President Trump is likely the largest driver of the such misinformation.

        Lost in the News Cycle

        In any other administration this would have led the news for at least a week.

        But the report came five days after President Donald J. Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court. It came four days after publication of a massive New York Times investigation that revealed that President Trump paid no federal income taxes for years. It came just two days after the debate debacle in which the President refused to condemn white supremacy and seemed to endorse the Proud Boys. And it came just hours before the news that the President and First Lady had tested positive for COVID-19.

        I wish the President and the First Lady a speedy and complete recovery.

        But it is important that this news not be lost, and that the President be held accountable for the consequences of his words, actions, and inaction.

        Language, Inaction, and Consequences

        I am a professor of ethics, leadership, and communication at Columbia University and New York University. This summer my book about Trump’s language and how it inspires violence was published. I finished writing Words on Fire: The Power of Incendiary Language and How to Confront It in February. But since then the effect of Trump’s language has been even more dangerous.

        In the book, I document how charismatic leaders use language in ways that set a powerful context that determines what makes sense to their followers. Such leaders can make their followers believe absurdities, which then can make atrocities possible. If COVID-19 is a hoax, if it will magically disappear, if it affects only the elderly with heart problems, then it makes sense for people to gather in large crowds without social distancing or masks.

        There’s just one problem. None of that is true. But Trump said all those things. And his followers believed him. And the President and his political allies refused to implement policies to protect their citizens.

        What The President Knew, and When The President Knew It

        As I write this, 210,000 Americans have died of COVID-19 and the President is being treated for it at Walter Reed Military Medical Center.

        But it didn’t have to happen. Three weeks ago Dr. Irwin Redlener, head of Columbia University’s Pandemic Resource and Response Initiative, estimated that if the nation had gone to national masking and lock-down one week earlier in March, and had maintained a constant masking and social distancing policy, 150,000 of fatalities could have been avoided.

        Trump knew about the severity of the virus in February and March.

        In taped discussions Trump told Washington Post Associate Editor Bob Woodward what he knew about how dangerous COVID-19 is:

        • It is spread in the air
        • You catch it by breathing it
        • Young people can get it
        • It is far deadlier than the flu
        • It’s easily transmissible
        • If you’re the wrong person and it gets you, your life is pretty much over. It rips you apart
        • It moves rapidly and viciously.
        • It is a plague

        But he was telling the nation the opposite.

        “Infodemic” of COVID-19

        President Trump likes to label anything he doesn’t agree with Fake News. But it turns out that he’s the largest disseminator of misinformation about Coronavirus.

        Cornell University’s Alliance for Science analyzed 38 million pieces of content published in English worldwide between January 1 and May 26, 2020. It identified 1.1 million news articles that “disseminated, amplified or reported on misinformation related to the pandemic.”

        On October 1, 2020 the Alliance published its report. It notes,

        “These findings are of significant concern because if people are misled by unscientific and unsubstantiated claims about the disease, they may attempt harmful cures or be less likely to observe official guidance and thus risk spreading the virus.”

        Its conclusion:

        “One major finding is that media mentions of President Trump within the context of different misinformation topics made up 37% of the overall ‘misinformation conversation,’ much more than any other single topic.

        The study concludes that Donald Trump was likely the largest driver of the COVID-19 misinformation ‘infodemic.’

        In contrast only 16% of media mentions of misinformation were explicitly ‘fact-checking’ in nature, suggesting that a substantial quantity of misinformation reaches media consumers without being challenged or accompanied by factually accurate information.”

        But Trump may be responsible for more than the 37% of the news stories that name him. The report says that

        ” a substantial proportion of other topics was also driven by the president’s comments [but did not explicitly name him], so some overlap can be expected.

        The most prevalent misinformation was about miracle cures. More than 295,000 stories mentioned some version of a miracle cure. (Note that the study looked only at stories that were published before the end of May, long before the president’s statements about a vaccine being ready by the end of October.)

        The report notes that Trump prompted a surge of miracle cure stories when he spoke of using disinfectants internally and advocated taking hydroxychloroquine.

        The second most prevalent topic, mentioned in nearly 50,000 stories, was that COVID had something to do with the “deep state.” The report notes,

        “Mentions of conspiracies linked to alleged secret “new world orders” or ‘deep state’ government bodies existed throughout the time period and were referenced in passing in conversations that mentioned or listed widespread conspiracies. Indeed, President Trump joked about the US State Department being a ‘Deep State’ Department during a White House COVID press conference in March.”

        The third most prevalent misinformation was about COVID-19 being a Democratic hoax, mentioned in more than 40,000 stories.

        Human Consequences of Misinformation

        The report closes with a warning: Misinformation has consequences:

        “It is especially notable that while misinformation and conspiracy theories promulgated by ostensibly grassroots sources… do appear in our analysis in several of the topics, they contributed far less to the overall volume of misinformation than more powerful actors, in particular the US President.

        In previous pandemics, such as the HIV/AIDS outbreak, misinformation and its effect on policy was estimated to have led to an additional 300,000 deaths in South Africa alone.

        If similar or worse outcomes are to be avoided in the present COVID-19 pandemic, greater efforts will need to be made to combat the “infodemic” that is already substantially polluting the wider media discourse.”

        In my book, I help engaged citizens, civic leaders, and public officials recognize dangerous language and then confront those who use it. I urge such citizens and leaders to hold those who use such language responsible for the consequences.

        I wish President Trump a full and fast recovery. He and those closest to him have now been affected by their own denial of science. I hope that now he can start to model appropriate safe behavior.

        But even as Trump is being treated in the hospital his campaign says it will stay the course, including an in-person rally for Vice President Mike Pence the day after the vice-presidential debate in several days. This is both irresponsible and dangerous.

        I urge civic leaders, engaged citizens, and public officials, regardless of party, to stop having super-spreader events such as in-person rallies. And finally to begin modeling responsible behavior: Wear a mask, maintain social distancing. Masking and distancing are not political acts; they are a civic responsibility.

         




        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

         




        Why Presidents Should Always Remember What Their Mothers’ Told Them. How President Trump’s Illness Will Affect The Election

        (And Important Lessons For PR Practitioners)

        (Author’s Note: This is the fifth in a series of political articles for CommPRO.biz that I’ll be writing 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 politics, the hackneyed expression, “history repeats” is true. This column highlights how presidents do not learn from their predecessors that one unthoughtful comment can come back to haunt them.)

        Arthur Solomon

        When I was a little boy, if I was caught telling a lie or using foul language (which, of course, I never would do), my mother would wash out my mouth with soap. It taught me to think before I spoke. (Not being a soap fanatic, she used both Palmolive and Ivory, whichever was on sale.)

        Too bad some of our presidents didn’t have the same experience. If they did, President Trump might have been cured of using foul language and not telling more than 20,000 lies during his presidency. Many have come back to haunt him, the most recent being his repeated fabrications that the coronavirus is under control. 

        The ridiculousness of Trump’s false statements about the coronavirus, even as deaths from Covid-19 are increasing, might have taught him a lesson that I’ve always told clients with PR crises: Tell the truth. It will eventually come out. In the president’s case, now that Mr. and Ms. Trump have been infected by the virus he doesn’t have to tell the truth about it. It is self evident.

        Trump has made so many untruthful remarks about the coronavirus pandemic that it’s difficult to highlight one.  But here are three:

        • It’s a Democratic hoax, and,
        • It only affects blue sates because of Democratic mismanagement, and
        • We have it totally under control.

        It wouldn’t surprise me to have him say, “Melania and I are doing the right thing by quarantining ourselves. Joe Biden is helping spread the virus by denying that he has it. And you know what? If he says that his supporters will believe it.

        But Trump is not the only president to have uttered comments that have come back to haunt him.

        5 Communications Lessons from Trump's VictoryHere are some famous remarks by presidents that would have been better unsaid;

        • President Obama, talking about Islamic extremists, called ISIS and other groups the “JV team.” The fight against Islamic extremists has been going on since 2001.
        • President Nixon told a group of newspaper editors that he is “not a crook.” He resigned on August 8, 1974.
        • President Ford committed a major blunder in a debate with Jimmy Carter, insisting that “there is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe.” It emerged as a major presidential campaign issue, which many analysts say contributed to his defeat by Carter. 
        • In his 1988 campaign for the presidency, President George H.W. Bush said,” Read my lips: no new taxes.”  During his first year in office he raised taxes; many analysts said that remark helped Clinton defeat Bush four years later.
        • President Clinton demonstrated his proficiency in double talk by saying ‘It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is. If the—if he—if ‘is’ means is and never has been, that is not—that is one thing. If it means there is none, that was a completely true statement. … Now, if someone had asked me on that day, are you having any kind of sexual relations with Ms. Lewinsky, that is, asked me a question in the present tense, I would have said no. And it would have been completely true.”

        But perhaps the biggest lie ever told by a president occurred in August 2016, when President Trump said, “I will never lie to you.”

        Of course, not all lies are equal. Some are quickly forgotten and forgiven by voters. Others have played a part in defeating the re-election effort of a president.

        The big question is, Will President Trump’s lies about the coronavirus and his illness affect the election? My opinion? It will. 

        Here’s Why:

        • With less than a month to go before Election Day, it will take him off the campaign trail.
        • It will prevent him from engaging with supporters in super-expensive “meet the president” events needed to raise money for a last minute advertising blitz.
        • Whatever the president’s spokespersons say about his health will be taken with a grain of salt. 
        • Even if he recovers s quickly, his illness will be reported on for the remainder of the campaign, reinforcing comments by health scientists that the president’s dismissal of the pandemic was deliberately low-balled.
        • Whatever comments he makes about the coronavirus for the remainder of the campaign will be taken at even less face value than before.
        • While the president’s illness might not result in a tremendous number of voters switching form Trump to Biden, it certainly will gain the former vice-president some new voters. 
        • What ever hope the president had of changing the media coverage of the coronavirus to a topic more favorable to him has now magically disappeared, like the virus would, as he said.

        (PR Lesson: The handling of the president’s illness has violated a basic tenet of a PR crisis: Don’t let bad news drip out. Get it out ASAP. The White House communications staff’s first mistake was not announcing that Hope Hicks had the virus. That news was made public by a Bloomberg News reporter. Then throughout Friday, when it was revealed that the president had the virus, news trickled out every few hours, without a medical staffer holding a comprehensive press briefing about his condition. The lack of transparency led to speculation by the media that the president’s condition might be worse than revealed, especially after it was announced that he was given an experimental drug treatment. The important thing for PR people to remember is that the less information made public during a PR crisis, the more speculation by the media that bad news is being held back.)

        Throughout the coverage of the president’s illness, the fact that he and his closest White House advisors worked in close quarters without wearing a mask was always mentioned, followed by medical scientists saying how important social distancing and mask wearing is.

        Ever since Joe Biden won the Democratic nomination, President Trump has been mocking him for wearing a mask, as he did during the debate last week. To appropriate from George and Ira Gershwin’s 1937 song “They All Laughed,” written for the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movie “Shall We Dance.” “Ho. Ho, Ho, Who has the last laugh now.”

        As I write this on October 3, more than 7-million American have been infected with Covid-19, and we are fast approaching that 210,000 of those have died.

        While I disagree with President Trump’s political philosophy, I never wished him or anyone to have ill health. But it must not be forgotten that just because he has been stricken with the disease that his constant disregarding the advice of leading medical scientists, his dissemination of false information about Covid-19, his encouragement of his followers to “liberate” states, his holding political rallies, despite scientists saying that they could be virus-spreaders, and his valuing the economy and stock market above the health of Americans makes the president an accomplice to the deaths of Americans.

        In its October 3-4 edition, on page A5, the Wall Street Journal headlined a story, “Covid Moves to Campaign Center.” The article quoted Alex Conant, a Republican consultant and veteran of the Bush White House, saying that Biden “didn’t do anything wrong and shouldn’t act like he did. This is a mistake some candidates make after tragedy occurs to the opposition.”

        If I was advising Biden, I would suggest that from today until Election Day that he keeps on explaining the policy differences between him and Trump on many issues, especially highlighting the coronavirus and health care issues.

        And he should do so without pulling any punches. Because if President Trump recovers in time for him to campaign before Election Day, he certainly will resume his aggressive attacks on Biden, his family and his untrue description of the Democratic Party as a socialist one or worse.  

        When I was hired by a political PR firm, which was my first job in PR, the owner told me that I will be lied to and mislead by people I come in contact with. “All people lie,” he said. “Especially politicians.” Since then I have always double checked information provided to me by a client for accuracy before disseminating it and refused to issue false information to the media.

        Facts that were made public today indicate that Trump has not only lied about the coronavirus but might be the spreader of the disease.

        (PR Lesson and Health Advice: Being skeptical about client claims and checking for accuracy should be the norm for our business. Unfortunately, it isn’t. Misleading information and outright lies are too often disseminated by PR people. That’s why so many reporters distrust information from PR people. Act like a reporter and check the facts for yourself when President Trump makes comments about the status of the coronavirus, (or anything else.) Doing so might keep you healthy, unlike the president and so many of his cohorts.)


        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.




        A Crisis Manager’s PR Advice to President Trump

         

        Thomas J. Madden, Chairman and CEO, Transmedia Group

        Mr. President, soon as you’re out of danger and feeling up to it, I offer you this crisis management advice as I have helped the CEO’s of some of America’s largest corporations to deal with crises effectively, turning scalding water into bubbling cool springs.  

        And I’m sorry to say yours is a doozy!  

        Meanwhile, there must be as much transparency about your condition and your progress or lack thereof in your battle with your COVID-19 infection.  The White House doctor must give accurate reports and straight facts and be totally honest and forthcoming about your condition, about such things as whether you’ve been on oxygen, how high is your fever, etc. 

        When there is clarity on your condition and you’re feeling stronger, I would recommend that you hold a White House briefing ASAP and address the media virtually from your quarantine.

        Tell the media how you and Melania are feeling and how you expect to recover quickly and resume campaigning harder than ever because . . .. “we can’t put jobs and our economy in quarantine and lockdown as Joe Biden would do.” 

        Also tell the media that henceforth you’ll be even more vigilant in wearing your mask and recommending others do the same.

        “Let this not interfere with our economy’s steady rebound,” you tell them.   “In fact, let what happened to me and Melania encourage more people to stay safe.”   

        Also I would thank Joe Biden . . . “for wishing me a ‘speedy recovery,’ but don’t think for a minute, Joe, that this is going to make it any easier for you as I intend to come out of this quarantine more vigorous and determined as ever to defeat you.

        “America’s industry, its workers and our economy need me for a second term for soon this virus will have seen its day with so many vaccines now on the march to the front line.  

        Stay strong, Mr. President.  May you recover soon and God bless America.  




        A Conversation with John Dean on His Newest Best-Seller, “Authoritarian Nightmare: Trump and His Followers”

        Free Virtual Event On-Demand

        Watch On-Demand 

         

        About

        Join CNN’s Michael Zeldin as he interviews John Dean on his recent psychological investigation into the psyche and personality of Donald J. Trump.  Dean, who is best known for his treatise on Richard M. Nixon–another president presumed to have authoritarian tendencies– now drills deep inside the mind of the current president to understand the deep-seated roots of his dictatorial dreams and how close we are to facing an “authoritarian nightmare” if he’s elected again. Trump’s reign in a second term will make Watergate look like child’s play. And of all the many ominous portrayals of Trump this election season, Dean’s book sounds the loudest warning against granting him a second term.

        Suspecting the answer lay in understanding Trump’s base constituency, Dean has partnered with Bob Altemeyer, a professor of psychology whose expertise is the study of authoritarianism, to see why Trump’s base is so faithful to him, no matter what he does. Why do evangelical Christians support him, for example, despite his well-documented sexual predations? Why do so many working class Americans support him, despite the way he works against their interests? Why do facts and logic not change their minds?

        This is the first book to take a deep dive into the psychology of Trump’s base: How do Trump’s communications campaigns continue to appeal to them, while taking actions so contrary to their economic, health and religious interests.  Why do his followers believe the flagrant lies about his record, despite so much proof to the contrary?  How do they continue to have faith in a man whose irrational words continue to contradict reality and who to this day warns them: “What you are seeing and what you are reading is not what’s happening.”

        Purchase “Authoritarian Nightmare: Trump and His Followers”

        Speakers

        John W. Dean

        John Dean served as Counsel to the President of the United States from July 1970 to April 1973. Before becoming White House counsel at age thirty-one, he was the chief minority counsel to the Judiciary Committee of the US House of Representatives, an associate director of a law reform commission, and an associate deputy attorney general at the US Department of Justice. His undergraduate studies were at Colgate University and the College of Wooster, with majors in English Literature and Political Science; then a graduate fellowship at American University to study government and the presidency before entering Georgetown University Law Center, where he received his JD with honors in 1965.

        John recounted his days at the Nixon White House and Watergate in two books: Blind Ambition (1976) and Lost Honor (1982). After retiring from a business career as a private investment banker doing middle-market mergers and acquisitions, he returned to full-time writing and lecturing, including as a columnist for FindLaw’s Writ (from 2000 to 2010) and Justia’s Verdict (since 2010), and is currently working on his twelfth book about Donald Trump’s presidency. Trump’s election has resulted in renewed interest in (and sales of) John’s earlier New York Times best-sellers: Conservatives Without Conscience (2006), which explained the authoritarian direction of the conservative movement that resulted in Trump’s election a decade before it happened, and Broken Government: How Republican Rule Destroyed the Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Branches (2008), which addresses the consequences of GOP control of government. His most recent bestseller, The Nixon Defense: What He Knew and When He Knew It is being developed by Amazon Studios into a feature film entitled “Watergate.”

        John Dean held the Barry M. Goldwater Chair of American Institutions at Arizona State University (2015-16), and for the past decade and a half he has been a visiting scholar and lecturer at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School of Communications. John has been teaching a long-running continuing legal education (CLE) program series which examines the impact of the American Bar Association’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct on select historic events from Watergate with surprising results, along with the lasting impact of Watergate on the legal profession – The Watergate CLE. Since 2017 he has been a political/legal commentator for CNN, and currently is working on his twelfth book

         

        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.

         

         

         




        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.

           




          OP-ED: PR Stunt Lessons From Trump University: Don’t Use!!! (Unless You Believe That There Is No Such Thing As Bad Publicity)

          Arthur Solomon

          As a senior level PR practitioner for many years, I have managed or played key roles in many national and international flagship agency accounts. During that span, novice account people would excitedly run into my office early in the morning telling me about an event they heard on the radio or read in a newspaper that might affect accounts they were working on. 

          “Did you hear what happened? What can we do,”? I was often asked. And my reply was always the same. “Let’s think things through before we suggest anything to the client. If the client calls before we have a plan, we should say we’re working on a response and will suggest one that fits the situation, because rushing a response can make matters worse.” And President Trump’s photo op stunt showing him holding a Bible upside down, which received massive negative press coverage, illustrates the dangers of rushing without thinking. 

          All during his tenure it seems that the president’s PR advisors learned their trade at Trump University before it was shut down as a scam. Insults, finger pointing, feeling sorry for the president, lies, blaming others and acting tough seem to be all they learned. 

          There are too many times that the president has insulted others to cite examples. There are too many times that the president has pointed fingers at others to cite examples. There are too many times that the president has felt sorry for himself to cite examples. There are too many times that the president has lied to cite examples. There are too many times that the president has blamed others for poor results to cite examples. There are also too many times when the president has insisted he’s right, when events show he’s wrong, to cite examples. But the president’s irrational less than PR 001 stunt is a prime example that deserves citing. 

          The president has always acted as the tough bully in the school yard. But on June 1 he bullied a peaceful group protesting the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis and gathered all sorts of government forces, including active military ones, to do his fighting while he stayed in the safety of White House grounds.

          The assorted forces used gas attacks, rubber bullets, and flash grenades against the peaceful protesters gathered in Lafayette Square so Mr. Trump could stage a photo op at St. John’s Episcopal Church, during which he held a Bible up like a sports fan showing off an autograph. 

          The live televising of the event showed the world that force was used against peaceful protesters. On the following days, TV, print stories and even some of the president’s strongest supporters – like Sen. Lindsey Graham – criticized the strong arm tactics of the bully in the White House. “I don’t know what the purpose of the trip was,” Graham said. “I do know that last night was a bad night and we need less bad nights.”

          When Graham criticizes the president you know something extraordinarily terrible happened. Graham’s lukewarm displeasure of the president’s actions was like a rain drop in the middle of an ocean, hardly making a splash. But it was soon followed by a loud  downpour of criticism of the president by other Republicans, most notably Sens. Lisa Murkowski, who said she might not vote for Trump in November, and Mitt Romney, who said, “From the news clips I have seen, the protesters across from the White House were orderly and nonviolent. They should not have been removed by force and without warning, particularly when the apparent purpose was to stage a photo op.”

          Other Republicans joined the criticism of the president’s use of force.  Sen. Ben Sasse, said in a statement. “There is a fundamental — a constitutional — right to protest, and I’m against clearing out a peaceful protest for a photo op that treats the word of God as a political prop.” Sen. Susan Collins said she found it “painful” watching peaceful protesters subjected to gas attacks so he could go to a church he had visited just once before. Mr. Trump “came across as unsympathetic and as insensitive to the rights of people to peacefully protest,” she said.”  Sen. Tim Scott, the only black Republican in the Senate, answered a question by saying, “Should you use tear gas to clear a path so the president can go have a photo op? The answer is no.” 

          But some congresspeople did more than give lip service. GOP Sen. Mitt Romney marched with protesters; Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden distributed water bottles to protesters, and Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez attended a protest and handed out masks.

          (All four former living presidents – Carter, Bush, Clinton and Obama. – issued statements condemning racism in American society, in contrast to the statements of our current president, who proudly said he was a Law and Order president. Other criticism of Trump was more direct.)

          Retired and active military officers feared the use of active soldiers in clearing the way for a presidential photo op would destroy the high regard civilians now have for the military.

          As of this writing on June 13, criticism of the president’s decision came from high ranking civilian and military personal, including defense secretary Mark Esper and Army Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, even though they were   among the senior administration officials who walked with Trump from the White House across Lafayette Square to St. John’s Episcopal Church shortly after the president delivered remarks threatening military action against protesters. (On June 11, Gen. Milley again apologized for participating in the photo with President Trump because, he said, it created a perception that the military is “involved in domestic politics.”…“I should not have been there,” Gen. Milley said in a pre-recorded speech for the National Defense University in Washington. As a commissioned uniformed officer, it was a mistake that I have learned from. And I sincerely hope we all can learn from it.”)

          The first condemnation of the stunt by a ranking government official was the departure of a top policy Pentagon staffer, James Miller, who resigned from his role on the Defense Advisory Board for what he saw as Esper’s violating his oath of office. Other criticisms of the president soon followed.

          Among the many high ranking retired and active military officers who criticized Trump’s actions directly or indirectly were Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Adm. Mike Mullen, another former chairman, (who said on Chris Wallace’s June 7 Fox TV show that he was “sickened by the forceful removal of protesters, especially when the constitution gives them the right to protest”), and James Mattis, who resigned as Secretary of Defense in 2018 to protest Trump’s Syria policy. In an extraordinary statement, Gen. Mattis called Trump a threat to the Constitution and said that he has deliberately attempted to divide people. Also finding fault with the president’s actions were Generals John Allen and David Berger, current Commandant of the United States Marine Corps, Marines; Barry McCaffery, Raymond Thomas, Paul Eaton, Wesley Clark, Vincent Brooks, Loree Sutton, Joseph Votel, Dana Petard, Mark Hertling, James Pillsbury, Douglas Lute, and current Army Chief of Staff James McConville, Army; Richard Myers, also a Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Mike Hayden, Air Force, (who also directed the National Security Agency and the C.I.A.); Adms. James Stavridis, William McRaven (who said, “President Trump has shown he doesn’t have the qualities necessary to be a good commander in chief.” “…The country needs to move forward without him at the helm.”), Joseph Maguire, Sandy Winnefeld, Mike Franken and current Navy Chief of Operations Michael Gilday; current National Guard Bureau Chief Joseph Lengyel, plus William Perry and Ash Carter, both former secretaries of defense. Gen. David Goldfein, Chief of Staff of the US Air Force, was the first senior serving military officer to speak out.

          After Mattis released his statement, Trump, in his default lying mode, said he fired the former defense secretary, causing his second chief of staff, former Marine General John Kelly to say, “The president has clearly forgotten how it happened.” And a day later, on June 5, Kelly said, “I agree with Mattis,” and added, “I think we really need to step back. I think we need to look harder at who we elect.” Maj. General Thomas Cardin of the Georgia National Guard said, “We in America should not get used to or accept uniformed service members of any variety having to be put in a position where they are having to secure people inside the United States of America.

          (This wasn’t the first time retired generals and admirals have criticized Trump. They have spoken out in the past about his admiration for totalitarian leaders like Putin.)

          FBI Director Christopher Wray also defended the right of nonviolent protests saying, “They are signs of a healthy democracy, not an ailing one.” And Colin Powell, who served as secretary of state under former President George W. Bush and was previously chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told CNN’s “State of the Union” on June 7 that Trump is a liar, a danger to the country and he will vote for Biden.

          In addition, CNN reported that more than 280 former national security officials criticized Trump’s aggressive approach to peaceful protesters, and expressed concern about the presence of military assets at demonstrations across the country.

          Perhaps the most damming comments against the president for using a religious backdrop while threatening military style action against peaceful protesters were the comments on television by Bishop Mariann E. Budde of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington. She said that she had not been informed of Mr. Trump’s using St. John’s as a prop for his get tough rhetoric. “He did not pray,” she said. “We need a president who can unify and heal. He has done the opposite of that, and we are left to pick up the pieces.”

          The day after his initial stunt backfired, the always so sure of himself president visited Saint John Paul II National Shrine, doubling down on his PR mistake. That visit drew scorn from Washington Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory, who said he was “baffled” by Trump’s visit to the shrine, calling it “reprehensible that any Catholic facility would allow itself to be so egregiously misused and manipulated in a fashion that violates our religious principles, which call us to defend the rights of all people even those with whom we might disagree.” Pope John certainly would not condone the use of tear gas and other deterrents to silence scatter or intimidate protesters for a photo opportunity in front of a place of worship, Gregory said in a statement.

          Even Pat Robertson, the televangelist who once ran for the Republican nomination for president, criticized Trump on his long-running television show The 700 Club. “It seems like now is the time to say, “I understand your pain, I want to comfort you, I think it’s time we love each other.”…. “But the president took a different course. He said, ‘I am the president of law and order,’” said Robertson.

          But Attorney-General Barr, the lackey, denied that the photo-op was a stunt, which shows his lack of PR knowledge. But he did demonstrate his historical memory by using tactics honed by Sen. Joe McCarthy and President Trump, when the A.G., as the president often does when he makes inflammatory statements without providing facts, accused foreign actors of exacerbating the violence without providing details.

          The president and A.G. also employed lessons from Putin’s play book. When the Russians annexed Crimea in 2014, soldiers wearing a variety of uniforms and civilians clothes, as well as camouflage without insignia, were used in the take over. At Lafayette Square, a combination of police without identifying insignia was ordered to clear the way for Trump’s walk to St. John’s.(Putin must have been flattered that the A.G. and the president thought so highly of the Russian dictator’s strategy that they copied it.) The A.G. told the A.P. that he didn’t give the tactical order to assault the protesters, although he supported it. But CNN reported that a Department of Justice official said Barr did give the order. President Trump went a step further than Barr, saying he had not ordered peaceful protesters forcibly removed so he could walk to St. John’s Church. (Seems no one wants to take responsibility; any volunteers among you readers?)

          Trump’s bad stunt judgment was again on display when he insisted that the graduating class of second lieutenants reassemble from throughout the country at West Point so he could deliver a speech on June 13, despite the coronavirus outbreak increasing and deaths from Covid-19 mounting. It was another instance of the “me first” behavior that Trump has demonstrated throughout his life. But this time it put the newly commissioned Army officer’s lives at risk. The cadets were sent home in March because of the virus scare and were ordered back when the president insisted he wanted to address them, coronavirus be damned.

          Everyone in our business knows, or should know, the president’s photo op was a stunt and so was his West Point address. Stunts can be a valuable PR tool if thought through and executed in a manner that lessen the possibility of negative media coverage. Stunts should be orchestrated only by PR practitioners who have the creative ability to make them mediable. Do-it-by-the-books staffers should ask for help from colleagues who think out-of-the-box to manage a stunt. 

          Stunts should not be used in an attempt to change the topic, as Trump does. They are like eating an ice cream cone under a 90 degree sun. It will soon melt away. Even a well executed stunt will resonate with people for only two or three days, if that long. (I know. I’ve orchestrated many successful publicity stunts that made the evening news or next day’s papers. Only one had a long shelve life, “Math Baseball,” but that was because we crafted it knowing that we would transition it into a year-long program.”) 

          Stunts are mainly a “for the moment” attention-grabbing publicity tool. The flawed march to the church Trump stunt did not divert attention from topics that concern many Americans: the killing of George Floyd, peaceful protesters being attacked, racial injustice, the use of military personnel against civilians, over aggressive actions by some policemen and the threat still caused by coronavirius, which is trending up in parts of the U.S. (As of the writing on June 13 at 6 pm, John Hopkins University reported, “The first case of COVID-19 in US was reported  on 1/22/2020. Since then, the country has reported 2,048,986  cases, and 114,699 deaths,” and trending up.) Those are all facts. But what is not known is how elderly Americans view the protests. Few joined the protesters, TV showed. Most stayed inside. Was it the fear of being infected by a virus that is most harmful to seniors that kept them from marching, or were they opposed to the protests and looting? Did it make a difference to seniors that the looters were a small minority of the protesters? The November election will give us the answers to those questions. But elderly voters are among Trump’s most loyal supporters. So their negative reaction to the protests might not help the president when the votes are counted.

          Trump’s West Point stunt also did not divert media attention from the criticism of his actions by many three and four star generals and admirals. Their comments certainly will carry more weight in the presidential election than West Point cadets tossing their hats in the air.

          Obviously, the president and his PR staffers, like so many people in our business, are so assured of themselves that they never considered that their church stunt might be received negatively by religious leaders and the media. (They broke a rule that I have always told people reporting to me: Don’t assume that you are the smartest person in the room. And if you are, don’t act like it.) 

          I created many stunts during the days when media outlets had enough reporters to cover them. A few examples:

          • During my political PR days, a U.S. Senator campaigned on the Staten Island Ferry. I also had a candidate for the New York State Assembly do whistle stop campaigning on the city’s then BMT line. He would get off at each station, greet people, board the next train and repeat the process. 
          • To introduce a new line of athletic wear, I arranged that a portable tennis court be set up in Broadway’s Shubert Alley, where passers by could attempt to return the serve of a professional tennis player. If they could they would receive merchandise. (Not much merchandise was given away.)
          • For a client who sold educational material to schools, I arranged for Hall of Fame baseball player, Monte Irvin, to be named “Math Baseball Commissioner.”. A portable infield of cloth with bases was created. According to the difficulty of the math question the youngsters would be awarded a single, double, etc. Major League teams participated, using Math Baseball as a community event in their areas.
          • For a Broadway show featuring a belly dancer, I arranged for the performer to give free belly dance lessons.

          All of these stunts, and others, had one thing in common. They were orchestrated so that the results of a media backlash were minimal, and there was none. (With reduced staffs, today it’s more difficult to get coverage for stunts unless they are tied to a specific newsworthy happening. I rarely advise stand-a-lone stunts.)

          Trump’s use of religion when using incendiary tactics and rhetoric is a perfect example of what I’ve seen many times when account people are under pressure from their clients because of poor results – shooting from the hip instead of carefully evaluating why things aren’t working out and making mid-course corrections to previously approved plans, Trump’s actions showed a lack of thinking things through. It showed the necessity of crossing the T’s and doting the I’s before embarking on any PR plan. Because of trying to immediately react to the moment, instead of considering how his march to the church plan might be received by the media and by religious leaders, it resulted in extensive negative press coverage. It’s too early to know how his putting West Point graduates in danger of being infected by the coronavirus will play out. But there’s a bigger downside than upside.

          There’s an old proverb “haste makes waste.” The Trump fiasco proves it. PR practitioner should heed it.

          In addition to showing a lack of PR know-how, Trump’s inept photo op stunt again exposed his admiration of the strongman tactics of Russia’s Putin, Xi Jinping of China, Kim Jong-un North Korea, Duterte of the Philippines and other dictators. In using gas, rubber bullets and flash grenades against peaceful protesters he now has gained official membership in their club by putting his totalitarian instincts into action. And that’s more important for Americans to remember than a flawed PR stunt.


          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 @ juno.com or artsolomon4pr@optimum.net.




          Op-Ed: The Coronavirus Triumphs, Aided By Cable News (And President Trump)

          My 2019 Cable TV “Breaking News”Arthur Solomon

          For years, I’ve been writing about the inadequacy of cable news reporting. I’ve also labeled it the “bad news networks.” Because of what has been happening in our country during the first half of 2020, I now accuse the cable news industry of formenting death and destruction, even on a greater scale than they have done in the past.

          Here’s why:

          After months of wall-to-wall coverage of the coronavirus, it seemed that President’s Trump was correct when he said on February 27 that “It’s going to disappear. One day it’s like a miracle—it will disappear.” And it appeared to the cable networks like the miracle occurred on May 26, after George Floyd died after a Minneapolis Police Department officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds during an arrest the prior night.

          Faster than you can say “Abracadabra” the cables changed its news coverage from deaths caused by the Covid-19 to the destruction of American cities, caused by looters using the inexcusable death of Mr. Floyd as an excuse to get a free shopping pass. 

          Instead of giving at least equal commentary for the reasons that originally caused the civil disobedience, the cable cameras were focused for 24/7 on the destruction caused by the agitators.

          Television is a visual medium and pictures of burning buildings and protesters clashing with the police were the default position of producers. 

          Some people believe that televising destructive actions, by individuals, as well as a mob, only encourages additional anti-social actions because it provides a worldwide spotlight for the actions.

          Certainly the pictures of burning buildings and police clashes are more interesting than listening to medical scientists talk about the coronavirus, or Fox News commentators from the right assailing liberal Democratic governors for over blowing the “Democratic hoax,” echoing what President Trump said on February 28 that the virus was the Democrats new hoax during a speech in South Carolina. Or listening to the commentators from the left on MSNBC continually attacking the president (even though much of what they say is true, unlike the lies by the Fox commentators).

          But largely missing from the coverage is how the coronavirus is still killing American every day, despite the absence of coverage from the cables. According to John Hopkins University, as of May 31 “The first case of COVID-19 in US was reported 129 days ago on 1/22/2020. Yesterday, the country reported 20,007 new confirmed cases and 605 deaths,” bringing the total number of deaths to 105,165 deaths as of June 1. 

          Cable News has long forfeited itself as being a trusted purveyor of news. It operates much as did the yellow journalism of the past, with its tenets being sensationalism, exaggeration and outright lies. It thrives on human misery; good news is its enemy.

          As cable news pays little attention to the coronavirus, Covid-19 thrives. The coronavirus is largely ignored by many people, forgotten by others who rely only on the cables for their news.

          As the new cases of coronavirus spread across the U.S., aided by cable news’ ignoring the disease, and President Trump urging the re-opening of the economy and ignoring the advice of medical scientists, as we enter the second half of this sad year there is a clear winner – coronavirus. There are also clear losers; trust, honest reporting and a government that many people can believe in.

          There’s an important lesson for PR people to remember from the months of hard news coverage since the beginning of the year. When dealing with the media, unless you have legitimate hard news to announce, timing plays a critical role in the success or failure of your pitch. Don’t pitch during periods that you know will result in hard news coverage – hurricanes, floods, mass killings, presidential elections, etc. Time your pitch to quiet periods. That’s when reporters, editors and producers might be on the lookout for the soft stories that encompass the majority of PR pitches.


          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 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.




          Contrasts in Leadership: Cuomo v. Trump

          Helio Fred Garcia, Executive Director, Logos Institute for Crisis Management and Executive Leadership

          Leaders are judged based on how they deal with their biggest challenges.

          In the COVID-19 crisis we see a contrast of leaders so stark that it can serve as a leadership laboratory for future generations to study.

           

          Contrasts in Leadership-Cuomo v. Trump

           

          New York Governor Andrew Cuomo shows a steady, compassionate, and urgent tone as he informs New Yorkers and the broader world about the reality of COVID-19 in his state. His briefings are direct, honest, consistent, and clear. He sprinkles his commentary with expressions of concern for health workers and hospital patients, he invokes his parents, his brother, and his daughters. And he tells the truth.

          President Donald Trump, on the other hand, shows none of these qualities. He bungled the first two months of the pandemic in the U.S. He denied the severity of the virus and downplayed the risk of contagion. He alternates between the rosy – churches full at Easter – and the gloomy – social distancing for much longer. There is still not a whole-of-government response. Rather, there are fragments of a government response. He leaves it to governors to figure out supply chains, even as governors confess that they’re bidding against each other – and the federal government – to secure desperately-needed medical equipment.

          President Trump heaps praise on himself and expects others to do as well. He recently bragged during a COVID-19 press briefing that he was the most popular person on Facebook.

          Governor Cuomo, who, according to Politico, has a “long-standing revulsion to social media,” has nevertheless “rapidly emerged as an internet star.” (Earlier this week, #Cuomosexual was trending on Twitter.)

          President Trump contradicts his own public health experts, who then have to clean up the mess in his absence. He improvises on the existence of testing equipment, medical equipment, and miracle drugs that don’t exist. He violates every principle of effective leadership in a crisis.

          Winston Churchill admonished, “You must look at the facts because the facts look at you.” President Trump ignores the facts in front of him and invents new ones.

          Trump insists on calling COVID-19 the “China Virus” or “Chinese Virus” even though the World Health Organization advises against naming diseases for a particular location because of the stigma involved. And last week the FBI warned about a wave of hate crimes against Asians and Asian-Americans in this country.

          Since the pandemic started my team and I have been studying the best and worst practices in communicating in a COVID-19 world. The best include:

          1. Begin all communication, whether written or verbal, with a statement of values: Don’t dive directly into the facts. Create an emotional connection.
          2. Show you care. Calibrate communication with empathy.
          3. Be direct, no euphemism: It’s confusing and causes unnecessary stress.
          4. Tell the truth, the whole truth: Your stakeholders are in this for the long term.
          5. Address all relevant dimensions of the crisis: A narrow lens is inadequate.
          6. Remember that expectations are dynamic. Calibrate current expectations.
          7. Communicate through multiple levels and channels. Be consistent.
          8. Align on values: Provide detail appropriate to each level and circumstance.
          9. Convey a positive attitude: Convey urgency short of provoking panic.
          10. Express emotion, vulnerability, and humility. Effective leaders do.

          Governor Cuomo scores on all elements of this scorecard. The President, sadly, misses the mark. Other leaders can learn from both.


          Helio Fred Garcia asks: Is Trump Responsible for the Violence?About the Author: For nearly 40 years Helio Fred Garcia has helped leaders build trust, inspire loyalty, and lead effectively. He is a coach, counselor, teacher, writer, and speaker whose clients include some of the largest and best-known companies and organizations in the world.
          Fred is president of the crisis management firm Logos Consulting Group and executive director of the Logos Institute for Crisis Management & Executive Leadership. He is based in New York and has worked with clients in dozens of countries on six continents.

          Fred has been on the New York University faculty since 1988.  He is an adjunct professor of management in NYU’s Stern School of Business Executive MBA program, where he teaches crisis management, and where he was named Executive MBA Great Professor. He is an adjunct associate professor of management and communication in NYU’s School of Professional Studies, MS in Public Relations and Corporate Communication program, where he twice received the Dean’s award for teaching excellence, in 1990 and in 2017.  He also received awards for outstanding service and for 30 years service in teaching. In that program he teaches courses in communication strategy; in communication ethics, law, and regulation; and in crisis communication.

          Fred is an adjunct associate professor of professional development and leadership at Columbia University, where he teaches ethics, crisis, and leadership in the Professional Development and Leadership program of the Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science. Fred is also a Senior Fellow in the Institute of Corporate Communication at Communication University of China in Beijing. 

          He is the author of five books on leadership, communication, ethics, and trust, including the forthcoming Words on Fire: The Power of Incendiary Rhetoric and How to Confront It.



          Democratic Debate # 11: Trump Lost Before It Began; But Will There Be A Coronavirus Affect?

          (And Two Important PR Lessons From the Political Scene For PR Pros, Plus Two Important Lessons For Future Political Office Seekers)

          Arthur Solomon, Public Relations Consultant

          If President Trump is reelected, he should invite the leadership of the Democratic National Committee to his inaugural party. Because by scheduling so many debates during which Democrats presidential hopefuls criticized other Democratic candidates, the Republicans didn’t have to waste time and money planning attacks on the candidates: All they had to do was remind people to watch the debates.

          Democratic Debate # 8: So Long, Iowa. Hello Mike?In the aggregate, I thought that the first 10 debates did nothing to help the Democrats in the 2020 election. What it accomplished was the damaging of other Democratic candidates. Too many circular firing squads; too few attacks on Donald Trump, except by Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg. And what did that get them? Thumbs down by the primary voters. After the first 10 debates, my score was Democrats’ 6, Trump 4, not because of the Democrats’ actions, but because of Trump’s manic, childish, narcissistic, grandiose behavior, and setting a U.S. presidential record for lying. And that was prior to his calling the coronavirus outbreak a “Democratic hoax” and fibbing about everything else associated with it. Thus even before Debate # 11 began, the score was Democrats 7, Trump 4.

          But with the Democratic candidates’ field shrinking to former veep Joe Biden and Sen. Sanders, did Debate # 11 provide less attacks on each other that could work to Trump’s advantage? More on that later.(But any advantage that Trump might have gained from Sanders and Biden attacking each other probably was eclipsed before the debate began by the president’s inept handling and remarks regarding the coronavirus. 

          Because Sen. Sanders’ followers are true believers (aka as fanatics in my dictionary), the caronavirus scare should play to his advantage during Tuesday’s voting. Fanatics are much more likely to wait in line to vote, despite being advised by medical pros to stay away from crowds, than rationale voters. The flip side is that young voters, that make up the bulk of Sanders’ supporters, don’t vote in large numbers.

          Before Commentating on Debate # 11, A Recap Of The Last Debate:

          In my Super Tuesday round-up column I said the following about remaining candidates:

          • Joe Biden: The former veep said that he considers himself a liberal, but a look at his record suggests he’s a liberal – moderate, more liberal than most members of the Senate, but less than Sens. Sanders and Warren. If Biden becomes the candidate, he might have a tough time convincing Sanders voters to back him, instead of staying at home as they did in 2016 when Hillary Clinton was the nominee. While Biden had a generally liberal voting record as a senator he’ll have to defend his vote for the Iraq war and his sorry performance when, as the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he presided over the confirmation hearings in which Anita Hill accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment during his Supreme Court hearings in 1991.Nevertheless, his Super Tuesday performance was terrific and Bloomberg endorsing Biden the following day is certain to gain him additional support.
          • Bernie Sanders: The Super Tuesday results showed that the senator’s support is a mile long and an inch deep. In order to have a chance to win the Democratic presidential nomination he has to attract more than his fanatical supporters. That would mean moderating his policies, which could turn off some of his current base. No matter what Sanders does, I don’t think he can attract liberal-moderate voters. And I don’t think he will be nominated at the convention.
          • Elizabeth Warren: My original choice for the nomination (for many months). But as the campaign continued, she reminded me of a female Bernie Sanders, sounding like she’s the only person who knows what’s right for the country. She positioned herself as the alternative to the ultra-liberal Sen. Sanders and suggested the other candidates were not liberal. While some       people think that her debate performances of interrupting other candidates before they concluded their responses to questions and her vicious attacks on Bloomberg, who has done more to help liberal and Democratic office holders than all of the other candidates rolled into one, helped invigorate her campaign, I think it damaged her chances for the presidential nomination,    even if there is a brokered convention.

          Did anything happen between the Super Tuesday voting on March 3 and Debate # 11 on March 15? Yes, some were the same old, same old. However, there were also significant new occurrences, one that was related to Super Tuesday but happened prior to it.

          The most noteworthy event was Biden’s resounding victory in the South Carolina primary, which carried over after his Super Tuesday success and continued until the voting on “Super Tuesday Jr.” on March 10. It was the coalescing of the former veep’s presidential opponents into a Biden support group. Helped by a string of endorsements by former candidates, Biden strengthened his delegate lead over Sanders with convincing victories on March 10. (In my opinion, the nomination race is now over and Biden can seriously start thinking about his veep running mate, and Sanders should start thinking about how he will convince his fanatical supporters to vote for Biden in November.)

          The Biden support group trajectory:

          • On March 4, former NYC Mayor Bloomberg acted in a statesmanlike manner saying that he entered the race to defeat President Trump and after the Super Tuesday results the best option for accomplishing that was to withdraw and endorse Joe Biden.
          • Contrasting Bloomberg, on March 4, was Sen. Sanders, who immediately attacked Biden for his past stands on NAFTA, social security and Iraq.
          • Sanders was counting on the Michigan primary on March 10 (Michigan has 125 pledged delegates) to revive his faltering campaign. But a possible fatal setback to the Vermont senator’s plan occurred on March 5, when Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer endorsed Biden, and on March 10, when other Michigan political leaders backed Biden.
          • On March 5, Sen. Warren suspended her campaign. In theory, most of her followers would vote for Sen. Sanders in the remaining primaries. But I’d be willing to bet a Boston cream pie, with a cranberry topping and a side of baked navy beans that Biden will receive off-setting endorsements for the remainder of the primary season.
          • Former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick joined the Biden band wagon on March 6.
          • On Sunday, March 8 there were two significant occurrences: Sen. Sanders reiterated on Chris Wallace’s TV program that he will definitely support Biden if the former veep gets the nomination. (The question is will Sanders’ fanatical supporters follow his lead or stay home as many did in the 2016 election, to Trump’s advantage?) The other significant occurrence was that Sen. Kamala Harris endorsed Biden prior to the voting in other primary states and said she will campaign in Michigan for Biden.
          • Also on March 8, the Rev. Jesse Jackson endorsed Sen. Sanders and joined him in a rally in Michigan. (In my view, Rev. Jackson’s endorsement is less important than Sen. Harris’ of Biden, because Harris is a rising star, Jackson a fading one.)
          • On March 9, Sen. Cory Booker endorsed Biden.
          • On March 10, Andrew Yang, another fallen Democratic candidate, endorsed Biden.
          • Of the major candidates only Sen. Warren has yet to endorse a candidate. I’m willing to give up punditry (but not for too long) if she doesn’t eventually support Biden, because not doing so would weaken her ability to push for legislation she favors if Biden wins the presidency.

          (The are too many endorsements to list them all. The above are what I consider game changers in Biden’s favor.)

          A less important, but still significant, occurrence happened on March 11, the day after Sanders poor showing on Super Tuesday Jr. He made a speech during which he attempted to choreograph the questioning of the March 15 debate by enumerating a number of questions that he would ask Biden. The questions all were about Biden’s stance on issues that Sanders has been campaigning on for years. It obviously was an attempt to get Biden to say he will promote Sanders’ agenda. However, there were two important aspects in the speech. In the beginning and the conclusion, Sanders emphasized that he would do anything to help defeat President Trump, and unlike past Sanders’ speech there were no attacks on Biden, which indicated to me that the senator would soon suspend his campaign and endorse Biden. Sanders also said that if Biden hoped to attract younger voters, the bulk of Sanders support, the former veep would have to embrace some of the Vermont senator’s positions (which I believe is true and was borne out during exit interviews with voters who embraced much of the senator’s agenda, even though they cast a ballot for Biden.)

          With only two candidates remaining, the made-for-TV series should have provided a more detailed and fact-driven debate on March 15. In some aspects it did. But it also provided a comic disagreement between Sen. Sanders and Biden’s staffers whether the two should stand or sit during the questioning. 

          There were two aspects about Debate # 11 that I thought were most important: Did the remaining two candidates continue to attack each other in a manner that could work to Trump’s advantage? And did Sen. Sanders, after resounding defeats in South Carolina and on Super Tuesday and Super Tuesday Jr. change his debate strategy? 

          (During my previous debate articles, I’ve designated winners and losers, not to the debaters, but to the Democrats or President Trump, depending on what transpired during the debates. In this case, I didn’t have to wait until it was concluded before choosing a winner, or more precisely a loser. It was Trump because of his mishandling of the coronavirus epidemic, which was muddled and lying (that shouldn’t be surprising), augmented by a Neanderthal-like view of science.) 

          Nevertheless Here’s my evaluation regarding debate # 11:

          (Thus far in my opinion, Sen. Sanders has outperformed Biden in every previous debate.)

          •  This was the best of all the debates because it was limited to just Biden and Sanders, providing them both with more time to explain their positions.
          • There was a major difference between the approaches of the two candidates: Sanders talked in generalities; Biden in specifics.
          • Sanders attacked Biden on the former veep’s positions on social security, student loans, the Defense of Marriage act, the Hyde Amendment, gay rights, the Iraq war and NAFTA. Biden denied some of Sanders accusations.
          • Biden attacked Sanders on his positions regarding Central America and particularly his comments about how some conditions in China and Cuba have improved. The Vermont senator replied that facts are facts but that he condemns dictatorships everywhere.
          • Both Biden and Sanders agreed on many positions, but split over how to achieve them.

          Because Biden provided specifics about how he would achieve his aims, I awarded this debate to him. Saying that, Sanders also did well, as he always does in these debates.

          I also thought the CNN-Univision moderators, Ilia Calderon, of Univision, and CNN’s chief political correspondent Dana Bash and anchor Jake Tapper turned in the best moderated debate of the series.

          They began and ended the debate with the major news of the week, questioning the candidates about how they would tackle the coronavirus.

          The trio of moderators made CBS’ Norah O’Donnell and Gayle King look like they flunked journalism 101, because even though the coronavirus was the big news on February 25, the day of their debate, they followed their prepared list of questions and didn’t discuss the coronavirus situation until late in that debate. That was also one day after Sen. Sanders made his partial defense of Fidel Castro, which should have been the second questions asked. Just awful journalism.

          What About The Future: 

          I believe that Sen. Sanders will suspend his campaign and call for his backers to support Biden before the end of March. And that Sen. Warren will endorse Biden shortly after.

          My Take:

          • In my estimation Mike Bloomberg is the MVP of the primary season and before. Even prior to suspending his campaign after a poor showing on Super Tuesday, the former NYC mayor has already done damage to President Trump. His support of Democrats running in the 2018 election helped Democrats win control of the House, which resulted in Trump being impeached. And his ads obviously have irked the president, who attacked Bloomberg even after he suspended his campaign. Even though he is no longer a candidate Bloomberg can still do considerable damage to Trump’s reelection efforts by continuing to do what he did in 2018 and during his 2020 campaign: Providing the funds that Democratic candidates can use in their campaigns and by continuing his on-target ads condemning the Trump presidency. He has done more to help Democratic office holders get elected than all of the other candidates combined. But that didn’t stop Sen. Warren from viciously attacking him, a main reason I withdrew my support of her and switched to Bloomberg.
          • No matter who the Democratic candidate is, the person cannot completely ignore Sen. Sanders’ campaign messages. Together with Sen. Warren’s ideas they make up a large portion of what the Democratic base believes, (including me, and I’m not a socialist, just a believer that when people need help they should get help from the government because they’ll never get it from the private sector, which is all about profits.) The Democratic platform must embrace some of Sander’s ideas, and the candidate must include some of them while campaigning during the lead-up to the November election. (While I disagree with Sen. Sanders’ remarks about U.S. foreign policy, I do believe a large portion of his economic message about conditions in the U.S. is correct and should be addressed.)
          • If I was strategizing the Democratic campaigns, I’d spend a lot of money on TV and social media on ads emphasizing how President Trump tried to cut The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention funding.
          • The ease of which the coronavirus is spreading across the U.S. caused Sen. Sanders and Biden to cancel rallies. (Since most people who attend the rallies have already made up their minds about who to support, it will not do any lasting damage to the candidates. The losers will be the cable TV channels, which depend on the rallies for content and punditry comments.) However, President Trump, who is also Chairperson of the Coronavirus Hunch, Flat Earth and Global Frozen Societies, scheduled a rally in the midst of the virus outbreak, and then postponed it.
          • The similarity of political consultants and football and baseball managers: Ever notice how campaign mangers for losing candidates are hired by other candidates? Or how losing football and baseball managers are hired by other teams? Or how losing campaign managers show up on cable TV as political experts? In none political and none sports businesses, winners, not losers, would be hired by other entities. (Advice to novice PR people: Consider leaving your job and joining a political or sports organization. Unlike our field, bad work does not disqualify you from advancement.)
          • I take exception with the media, led by the sorry cable TV political shows, for dividing candidates into “progressives,” “moderates,” or “conservativescategories. As someone who has worked on local, state and presidential campaigns, I know that a candidate can have different policy positions, which according to today’s media labeling would do the candidate an injustice by channeling the person into a one – size – fits – all grouping. I’ll use myself as an example: I lean left of center on most economic issues; slightly less left of center on social issues, and center or right of center on police and military issues. In fact, because I always give the benefit of the doubt to police actions (not to those who protest them) and I am against a volunteer Army and believe in a draft, “progressives” would consider me an “extreme right of center conservative,” which I am not (no matter what they say). Good journalism would detail how the candidates differ on specific issues, but doing so would go against the formula of the headline driven “Breaking News” reports on cable. Also, I’m willing to bet an expensive lunch or dinner that most of the cable reporters do not know the specific details of the candidates’ positions.
          • A tale of Two Parties: Here’s what wrong about American politics today: Democrats – The color of a person’s skin is more important in selecting candidates than choosing the most qualified individuals. Republicans — Not standing up to a divisive, incompetent, ignorant president (read his statements about the coronavirus and his being surprised to hear that the flu kills people). What is important to the GOP is not speaking out against the president and keeping their concerns about his behavior limited to “off-the-record” conversations with journalists.
          • The bungled response by the White House, first by playing  down the threat and then having President Trump contradict health experts and saying he had a “hunch” about the progress of the coronavirus, will give the Democratic candidate for president an unexpected line of attack. Even pro-Trump papers like the Wall Street Journal have had stories critical of how the   president has responded to the outbreak. (Example: On March 10, two articles in the WSJ were critical of the president’s response.) Health legislation concerns were a big factor in the Democrats winning the House in 2018. They are certain, because of the coronavirus, to be even a stronger Democratic issue in November.
          • My suggestion for lexicographers: New definition for “hoax.” Anything that President Trump disagrees with. Example: The coronavirus is a hoax.
          • Health advice for political junkies: Don’t hold your breath waiting for the next debate. Even though the Democratic National Committee announced that there would be 12 debates, the final one has not yet been announced. If Biden sweeps Tuesday’s primaries and greatly extends his delegate lead over Sanders, Debate # 12 might never be held.

          Important Lesson # 1 from the political scene for PR pros: Being the most competent person in your agency does not guarantee your rise to a high-ranking position.

          Important Lesson # 2 from the political scene for PR pros: President Trump, who has been caught by fact checkers of lying about 16,000 times since he took office, has also lied about the coronavirus. As a result, whatever he now says about the virus is taken with a grain of salt, no matter what lackeys like Vice President Pence says about the president’s magnificent leadership during the epidemic. Remember: Never lie or mislead the press. Unlike the president, you, your agency or your client are not a “must” cover story. Get caught lying once and you might find yourself on the “Do not trust” list.

          Important Lesson # 1 from the political scene for future political office seekers: As Sen. Sanders has learned, a “movement” doesn’t mean most voters believe in it.

          Important Lesson # 2 from the political scene for future political office seekers: As Sen. Sanders has learned, young voters talk a lot but they don’t vote a lot.

          Personal Experience Note: I hate to see airline employees laid off because the coronavirus is limiting travelers. But it’s difficult to feel sorry for the airlines because of the way they treat passengers.


          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.




          Media Lessons Learned From The Trump Senate (Impeachment) Trial

          Media Lessons Learned From The Trump Senate (Impeachment) Trial

          (That Were Probably Not Taught In Communications Classes)

          Arthur Solomon, Public Relations Consultant

          On January 13, on this web site, I wrote an article regarding media lessons learned from the House impeachment hearings. Many of the examples I listed also applied to none political accounts that most PR practitioners who work at large and small agencies can use.

          The natural sequel to that article, I thought, was Media Lessons Learned From The Trump Senate (Impeachment) Trial. And there were plenty.

          But before the lessons, there are important happenings that occurred prior to the actual trial:

          It’s not unusual that before a highly anticipated trial of a celebrity begins for the accused to claim that:

          • The charges are untrue,
          • That the only reason for the trial is because of false media stories,
          • That everyone is lying about the situation,
          • That, in this case, it’s a witch hunt, and, also in this case,
          • How can they impeach me when I’m such a great president?

          President Trump has been tweeting a variation of the above for months, but on Sunday, January 12, he seemed unable to make up his mind about his upcoming trial. He tweeted backing for a Senate trial that would include Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Adam Schiff, Chairman of the House Committee on Intelligence, as witnesses. But a few hours later Trump said he didn’t want a trial; instead that the Senate should dismiss the impeachment charges without one. (Lesson: PR people should never release a statement unless it has been decided that it is the definitive one, the exception being if facts have changed between statements. Doing so will make you an untrustworthy news sources for journalists. Also, if necessary, perhaps as the president should have done, don’t forget to take your medicine before releasing statements.)

          In addition to Trump’s tweet attacks, there was  a lot of  the usual give and back comments between Trump and his GOP defenders and the Democrats, but only one statement that no one can quarrel about: It was by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the December 12 “This Week with George Stephanopoulos”  program. Ms. Pelosi said, “Ten months from now we will have an election if we don’t have him removed sooner. But, again, he’ll be impeached forever.” No one can argue with that fact (except some defenders of Trump among my friends, who don’t know the meaning of impeachment).

          For people who have worked on Broadway shows, as I have, the lead up to the actual trial might remind them of how producers and publicists structured the advance publicity of shows with different daily announcements prior to opening night. The same techniques were used by Democrats in the days prior to the beginning of the Senate trial.

          The sequence:

          1. On January 14, the Democratic caucus met to discuss strategy.
          2. At about 10 a.m., on January 15, Speaker Pelosi announced the seven Democratic managers who will act as prosecutors in Trump’s Senate trial. A few hours later, the House debate regarding approving the managers and advancing them to the Senate began. By early afternoon, both measures were approved.
          3. At 5:24 p.m., after a short speech, House Speaker Pelosi signed the impeachment documents and it was delivered to the Senate at 5:36 p.m.
          4. After each step, the Democrats made a spokesperson available to reinforce their points and answer media questions.
          5. On January 16, Speaker Pelosi again spoke to the press prior to the Democratic impeachment managers reading the charges against President Trump to the Senate, which officially was the beginning of the trial.
          6. On January 17, the Democrats released information regarding the relationship between Lev Parnas, President Trump and Rudy Giuliani.
          7. Also on January 17, Ms. Pelosi said during a television interview that the Democrats knew more damaging information regarding President Trump would become public, but the new details were not necessary to bring impeachment charges.
          8. On Saturday, January 18, the Democrats released its impeachment brief to the media.
          9. On Sunday, January 19, Speaker Pelosi ceded the media mikes to Reps. Adam Schiff and Jerrold Nadler, both House committee chairman and impeachment managers, providing the media with an opportunity to get their perspectives on what will happen during the Senate trial.
          10. On January 20, the Democrats transferred the platform to Sen. Bob Casey, and Rep. Gerald Connolly to make their case.

            Of course, the great majority of you, if any, will not be involved in political campaigns, local, national or presidential, as I was when my first PR job was with a political firm. But if someone was crafting a publicity program with the objective of receiving continuous and long-term media coverage, using some aspects of the Democratic media plan is a model that should be considered. Some of the tactics resemble the strategy I always used at my two none political agency jobs.

            Another tactic the Democrats employed, that I always used, was not to call a major press conference to announce news, unless there was truly blockbusting information. (Announcing a new and improved car seat cover does not fall into that category, no matter what your client may say; neither does the reformulation of a hair shampoo or the new packaging of a cereal). The Democrats made their points known by having short meetings with the media, sometime in a group setting, other times via one on one interviews.

            (Because the media turnout at a press conference is never guaranteed, I would arrange interviews for the client with a handful of important news outlets the day prior to the conference, with the proviso that their stories not be released until the conference begins. All of these journalists were long time friends, from the days I was a reporter, or that I forged a strong-working relationship with during my PR days. Caveat: Don’t use this tactic with reporters that you can’t trust. A reporter breaking the story the day before a press conference can affect the turnout.)

            There are important media tactics that people in our business should remember regarding the above before trial tactics:

            • If you have good news, considers staggering its release over several days to gain continuous positive coverage for your client.
            • But, if you have bad news, release it ASAP all at once, hoping that it will limit continuous negative coverage, which media history shows is mostly an unfulfilled wish. (This is still considered a must tactic of PR crises specialists even though it hardly ever works and never will in a major PR crisis. It might have, once in a millennium, during the days before the 24/7 news cycle, never now, regardless of what PR crises specialists say. It’s like the still used PR crises maxim that says, “Get ahead of the story,” whatever that means.) Don’t believe me. Ask President Trump, Joe and Hunter Biden.
            • The way the Democratic leadership crafted their media strategy, so that their messages had a continuing flow of negative information about the president’s conduct, should be required teaching in PR 101 courses. Certainly savvy PR practitioners can craft brand and corporate publicity campaigns, as I have done a number of times, so they can be structured to have a long shelve life.

            Media Lessons Learned From Proceedings During The Trial:

            (I mistakenly thought the trial was about the abuses to the Constitution by President Donald John Trump. But once it began the Republican senators and their attorneys renamed the trial:” The Joe and Hunter Biden Punching Bag” piñata.)

            Nevertheless:

            • Despite his previous hard line stance regarding the rules of the impeachment trial, Mr. McConnell surprised senators with revising two of the most controversial ones on the opening day of argument, January 21. The majority leader agreed to permit both sides 24 hours to make their case over three days, instead of two days, that he advocated for the previous day, and also said that the evidence gathered by the House Democrats would automatically be entered into the Senate record unless there was an objection. Previously McConnell said the evidence would be barred. Lesson: Be flexible, even it if means contradicting yourself to achieve your goal.
            • Too often during an agency press conference, the speakers are limited to one or two persons. That’s fine for pre and after conference interviews. But I’ve always crafted press conferences to have several principal speakers so journalists can have various ways of approaching a story to meet the needs of their outlet, assuring significant coverage. During the debate over the rules of the impeachment trial, the Democrats did the same thing. That’s a good technique that is too often not utilized. Lesson: Don’t be penned in by “do-it-by-the-book” tenets.
            • January 21, was the day the Senate met to discuss the rules for the trial. But by using a clever technique, introducing numerous amendments to Sen. McConnell’s proposed organizing resolution, the Democrats presented their entire case for impeaching the president. Lesson: The Democratic strategy should be a template for press conferences and individual interviews: Important points should always be disclosed immediately because, history shows, not all reporters at agency press conferences stay for the entire show, and when a client is being interviewed the reporter controls the clock.
            • On January 22, prior to the Senate reconvening, Democratic Senate leader Schumer held a press briefing summarizing what transpired the day before, which again emphasized the Democrats positions. Lesson: While it’s not possible to use the same technique the day after an agency press conference, there is a method of accomplishing the same goal that I have often used: It’s emailing a document to the reporters immediately after the conference or interviews emphasizing the key client points. Then send another email the following day, asking if any more information was needed. (But don’t be a pest and telephone.)
            • If I was writing a Saturday Night Live skit I could use the words of Chief Justice Roberts verbatim during the impeachment trial session that began on January 21. Justice Roberts admonished both the House impeachment mangers and Trump’s defense team for using “ language that is not conducive to civil   ” Nothing wrong there. But his statement also reminded the opponents that they are “addressing the world’s greatest deliberative body,” a ridiculous statement considering that all 11 Democratic amendments were rejected by a party line vote, without having the senators debate them, and that since Sen. McConnell became the GOP Senate majority leader, tabling legislation has become the norm rather than allowing debates. Lesson: When preparing remarks for a client, do not use grandiose or embellished language. Make certain the statements agree with the facts.
            • The Democratic House managers repeated the same facts continuously during the trial, (much like advertising agencies repeat the same ads many times). By doing so, their messages of Trump’s wrong-doings were heard by TV audiences at various times of the days, reaching people who might have not heard the charges earlier in the proceedings. Lesson: In order to be successful, a PR program’s message points must be sustained over a long period in order to break through the clutter of others’ messages.
            • On January 23, an important PR lesson that everyone should remember was played out on national television. Democratic House manager Nadler played a videotape of remarks that Sen. Lindsay Graham made when he was a House manger for the GOP during the impeachment trial of President Clinton. Graham’s statement contradicted his then Clinton position now that Trump is on trial. Shortly prior to the video clip being shown, Graham, who had a script of the power point presentation, left the room, returning when Nadler moved on. Lesson: Be careful what you say. It might be used against you.
            • Speaker of the House Pelosi gave a lesson that all PR practitioners should remember when having a press conference: Despite being the leader of the Democrats, once the Senate trial began she deferred to those involved in the trial to hold press briefings. Too often during agency press conferences, the ceo, president or other high corporate executives are featured, instead of individuals who really know the details of the subject being discussed. That leads to an unhappy press and sometime disgruntled reporters who says the PR people wasted their time.  (Not good for cementing relations with journalists.) Lesson: Do not schedule a press conference unless you are prepared to have a spokesperson who can provide specific details; never craft a dog and pony show for corporate execs to use as a promotional tool.
            • Unlike some PR practitioners, who feel that if a client refers to notes during a TV interview it will give the impression of not  knowing the facts, I have always told clients that they should always refer to notes, if necessary. During the q and a sessions during the Senate impeachment trial, the Democratic House managers and Republican lawyers believed the same as I do. It was clearly seen on TV that both referred to briefing books. Lesson: A client, or PR person, should never answer a question unless they are positive that what they are saying is correct.

            There was also one very important non-media lesson that should be remembered from the trial – the use of email – because it was used extensively by the House managers as evidence against President Trump. Sensitive information should never be emailed. It should be personally walked to others on a need-to-know basis. If the information has to be sent to colleagues in other offices, use overnight mail marked “personal.” Inter-office telephone conversations regarding sensitive information should be avoided, and used only when absolutely necessary.

            Impressions from the trial:

            • Democratic impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff was far and away the best messenger during the trial, resulting in providing him with a national reputation should he seek higher office.
            • The Democratic media strategy before, during and after the trial was the first time in many years that the Democrats’ tactics bested the Republicans.
            • President Trump’s “scam” and “hoax’ remarks during the trial seemed old hat and didn’t receive much press coverage.
            • Throughout the trial, the defenders of the president provided minimal evidence to contradict the impeachment charges.
            • The lameness of cable TV news was again evident during the trial. During the trial breaks, the fish in my aquarium could have predicted the answers, when the reporters questioned the senators about their views of the proceedings: Democrats replying that their House impeachment managers are doing an excellent job; Republicans slamming the presentations.(Not exactly a surprise.)

            General Observations:

            Despite Senate Leader McConnell not allowing a vote on whether to allow witnesses until the second week of the trial, the Democratic House mangers found a way to use witnesses from the first day of their opening statements: As part of their presentations, they used video of the testimony of witnesses taken during the House impeachment inquiry; also of the president and “Mick” Mulvaney, Trump’s Director of the Office of Management and Budget, and acting White House chief of staff, who said at a press briefing that Democrats should, “Get over it. There is going to be political influence in foreign policy,” when questioned about the freeze in foreign aid to Ukraine.

            The news reporting regarding President Trump’s defense attorneys once again confirmed what I’ve said for decades: Once an entity or individual has been involved in a PR crisis, it becomes embedded in its DNA and can be revived by the media at anytime. That’s what happened to Ken Starr and Alan Dershowitz, when they were announced as part of the Trump defense team.

            Radio, TV and print media mentioned that both lawyers were involved with negotiating lenient plea deals for sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and that Dershowitz was accused of having sex with an under age girl, which he denied. Stories also mentioned a list of seedy clients that Dershowitz defended. A New York Times story said that” Starr was pushed out as the Baylor University president because of his handling of sexual misconduct by the football team.

            TV reporters and pundits also continuously told of the advantage that some Democratic presidential candidates had in Iowa because senators sitting as jurors during the impeachment trial couldn’t campaign there and other early primary states. Of course, everyone in our business knows that’s nonsense. Because of technology dating back many years, a person in Washington can use video interviews to gain the media exposure in states across the country.

            By repeating the same facts continuously throughout the trial the Democratic House managers were pursuing a two-pronged strategy: 1) to convince the Senate to remove President Trump from office, (which they knew would not happen), and, 2) to convince the voting public of the president’s guilt so they will vote against him in the November election.

            I thought the Democratic House managers did a superb job of presenting the case against President Trump, except for two facets: Too much of their presentation was about the past; too little about how Trump would continue to  trample the Constitution and power of Congress in the future if he remains unbridled. They began to make these points later in the trial but it should have been a key message point from the beginning.

            As a reporter and editor prior to crossing the line to the PR business, I’ve always known one truism about media reactions to major PR crises situations, which I’ve always told to clients: Diversionary public relations or publicity initiatives will result in temporary overlaying press coverage but will still be miniscule compared to that of the underlying predicament. Coverage of media reporting of the Senate trial, compared to the travels of President Trump and Vice-President Pence and other smoke screen tactics they used during the Democratic House manager’s presentations, again proves what I’ve said.

            To lift a thought, and some words, from Jason Gay’s non-political sports column in the Wall Street Journal (January 24), regarding the baseball sign stealing scandal: (My take). Both the baseball commissioner and President Trump seemed to get what they wanted – an in-house investigation and a speedy trial before a fixed jury. But in both cases, suspicious media coverage will continue, because of the past conduct of cover-ups by baseball commissioners, and what the GOP Senate Majority Leader and other “impartial” jurors said publicly about how they would vote prior to the flawed Senate trial’s commencement. Eventfully the truth about both situations will become known. Until then the fairness of the in-house sign stealing investigation and the acquittal of the president will linger as a damaged piñata over the heads of baseball commissioner Rob Manfred and President Trump, waiting for the truth about both situations to be revealed by an investigative press, whistle blowers or, eventually, insiders who have had enough.

            Because of the Republican control of the Senate, the Democratic leadership knew the chances of President Trump being found guilty were nil to none. But, looking ahead to the 2020 presidential election, they proceeded with the impeachment process.

            That’s a very important PR media lesson that should be learned from their tactics: When crafting a media-oriented publicity program, it should include long-term as well as short term objectives.

            In addition to the media lessons learned from the Senate trial of President Trump, and from the prior impeachment inquiries, there’s a valuable personal lesson that PR practitioners who work at small and large agencies should remember: Take contemporaneous notes of your daily activities and what is said to you (you’ll never know when you might need them). Be careful of what you say, what you write and what you do because no matter how complimentary your supervisors, top management and H.R. are to you, you’re still an employee number. And if circumstances change, (like a new client contact wanting a new account supervisor for an account you’ve managed for years), even if you’ve done nothing wrong and everything correct, management will feed you to the sharks if it helps the agency.

            Final Thoughts:

            • The outcome of the Senate trial was known before it began. Even before the first words were spoken the outcome was never in doubt. The GOP Majority Leader was true to his word, when he said he would work step-by-step with the White House
            • The Democratic House managers’ arguments were made with the November election in mind.
            • The Republican vote refusing to allow John Bolton to testify was beneficial to the Democrats. If Bolton testified, the outcome of the trial would not have changed. By blocking his testimony, the Democrats can now claim, “what were they trying to hide,” from tomorrow to election day.
            • I’ve said for years that when a client has had a PR crisis, as the president has had even before he was inaugurated; it becomes embedded in the individual’s or entities DNA and never goes away. It can be revived by the media unexpectedly at any time, even years later. That’s not true in this case. In this case, the media will keep the president’s crisis alive day-after-day until the election.
            • There’s another important media lesson that people in our business should remember regarding the Senate proceedings. When a client has a PR crisis, self-designated crises specialists, in this case the president’s defenders cannot prevent negative coverage. Only the media can decide when to cease writing about the subject. And there’s nothing PR people can do about it. If you don’t believe me, ask the impeached president.

              Are there overriding media lessons that can be learned from the impeachment trial? Yes there are. In fact, there are four. Lesson 1: For the remainder of his tenure, and during his next term if he is re-elected, the president, like Boeing, Wells Fargo, Facebook and so many other individuals and entities that have had major media crises, the president will always need a crisis team in place, because the negative press coverage will continue as new information emerges after court rulings and new books are published by people who have worked for his administration. Lesson 2: Even though much of their advice is flawed, PR employees should consider joining a PR crises firm. It’s an aspect of public relations that will always be in demand. Lesson 3: If you reach the stage in your career where you will manage a large group of people, be nice to them. If you’re not, don’t expect them to say nice things about you to the media, and Lesson 4: If you are ever interviewed by the press or an investigative body, remember that whatever you say can be used as evidence, if necessary.

              The Senate trial ended in the acquittal of President Trump. But the history books will record him as only the third impeached president of the United States. And beginning right now, the day-to-day chroniclers of history – the journalists – will report on his plans to convince a divided country to reelect him in November. And the impeachment of the president will remain a continuing story line. Media Lesson: Despite the best efforts of PR crises specialists, the press will always have the final words.


              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 (at) optimum.net.




              Strategy for Super Bowl Brands as Bloomberg Duels Trump

               Henry C. Boyd III, Clinical Professor in the Marketing Department at the Robert H. Smith School of Business

              Aspiring presidential hopeful Michael Bloomberg’s timing is rather canny. On the eve of the 2020 Iowa Caucuses where he doesn’t appear on the ballet, Bloomberg — front of about 100 million Super Bowl halftime viewers — will unveil a political spot reportedly to attack perhaps the most polarizing president in U.S. history – Donald Trump. This decisive act imposes big implications for next-day discussions at the water cooler and over social media platforms.  It also means the specter of presidential politics will now loom large – further fueled by equal time of Trump messaging.  Hence, this classic battle of conservatism versus progressivism threatens to saturate an iconic pop culture milieu to the detriment of the other Super Bowl advertisers.

              Pro football, along with these other advertisers, has been poised for a revitalized stage. Fox Sports in November reported that the network has sold out Super Bowl ad spots for the Feb. 2 game, marking the first time for such a bonanza in five years. This further bucked a recent trend of networks like CBS waiting as late as hours before kickoff to fill up commercial breaks.

              Fueling the upswing has been this year’s strong economy along with especially-compelling regular season narratives that are helping the NFL make a comeback in a time when traditional and reality TV are struggling to keep up. Consider the nature of the game nowadays, especially the offensive side of it, where rising stars like Baltimore Ravens’ quarterback Lamar Jackson and Kansas City Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes have helped to make it thrilling to watch football.

              So how should brands position themselves alongside dueling Bloomberg-Trump campaign ads?  First, avoid transparently political messaging used in 2017 spots by 84 Lumber (The Journey Begins) and AirBnB (We accept).  I suspect that most viewers will have been inundated with political rhetoric.  Instead, savvy firms ought to lean towards entertainment-infused commercials.  Second, think in terms of drama-focused advertisements and aim to spark conversation on social media – broadly and especially among non-political junkies. I base this assertion on my doctoral dissertation research at Duke University, where I isolated key elements of drama-related advertising.

              Super Bowl advertisers should approach their spots as 30-, 45- or minute-long mini plays or dramas. In each instance, the following ad elements need to positively stand out: the actors’ traits, the actors’ interactions, the dialogue, the delivery of the lines and the setting.

              From the viewer’s standpoint, you naturally check all those boxes in your mind’s eye when watching a drama.  If all the elements pass muster, the viewer experiences verisimilitude (i.e., a desired end state where the viewer buys into the performance).  That’s a big win for any marketer.  Audi’s 2017 “Daughter” spot exemplifies this – and significantly through delivering a glimpse of the future. This vision – about equal opportunity irrespective of one’s gender – significantly was portrayed in the ad between a father and daughter, making it relatable and subsequently inspiring to a large segment of viewers.

              Moreover, for 2020, skip the lecture ads, especially, again, those making political statements, and go with something that draws audiences in and isn’t so explicit about the product. This will prompt viewers to draw and share their own conclusions via social media. Reward outweighs backlash risk when brands aim to inspire via social messaging. And, you have to entertain at a minimum.  Effectively crafting inspirational and entertaining spots is never easy, but it’s paramount for a brand’s continued success.


              Henry C. Boyd

              About the Author: Henry C. Boyd is a Clinical Professor in the Marketing Department at the Robert H. Smith School of Business. He is also a managing director and principal at Ombudsman LLC, a diversified consultancy. He is licensed to practice law in Maryland, Wisconsin, and the U.S. District Court, Western District of Wisconsin. 

              Boyd received his Ph.D. in Marketing from Duke University (with an emphasis in Consumer Behavior) and his J.D. in Intellectual Property from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. At the age of 24, he received his MBA in Marketing from the University of California at Berkeley. Prior to graduate study, he obtained his A.B. in Chemistry (with an emphasis in Biophysics) from Princeton University.




              Democratic Debate # 7: Trump’s Default

              Arthur Solomon, Public Relations Consultant

              The Democratic Debate # 6, the last one of 2019, reminded me of the poem about a little girl that goes, “There was a little girl. Who had a little curl. Right in the middle of her forehead. When she was good, she was very good and when she was bad, she was horrid.” That’s because the candidates, for several weeks, seemed to embrace her good and bad traits before and after the debate

              Democratic Debate # 6: The ComparisonsThe Good: They all performed well. (I thought the best was Sen. Amy Klobuchar, followed by businessman Tom Steyer.)

              The Bad: As in past debates, the Democrats formed a circular firing squad, but the piñata of the debate was Mayor Pete Buttigieg. 

              Examples (from Debate # 6):

              • Warren attacked Mayor Pete’s fund raising methods, resulting in a spirited, antagonistic back and forth not seen in previous debates; the moderators, showing good news sense not shown in previous debates, let them slug it out.
              • Klobuchar also criticized Mayor Pete’s accomplishments and his electoral record.
              • Even Mr. Yang, who has not criticized other candidates in the past, found fault with Mayor Pete’s fund-raising methods.
              • Sanders attacked former veep Biden; both went after Mayor Pete, while criticizing each other’s health plans.

              There were other instances of Democrats attacking Democrats, but compared to the past they were not as sharp and were limited.

              The debate, hosted by PBS and Politico, was by far the best one during 2019 because of the conduct of the moderators, who didn’t consistently use a stop clock:

              Highlights (from Debate # 6):

              • The moderators permitted the candidates to speak, instead of cutting them off every few seconds.
              • The questions were more evenly divided among the candidates.
              • The questions were not meant to cause controversy between the candidates; also, no “gotcha” questions.
              • The moderators showed a better sense of what a debate should be than in the previous ones; no “star” cable news hosts consistently interrupting the candidates; only experienced journalists who let the candidates fully explain their positions.

              (Before I give my opinion about Debate #7, the first in the new year and the last before the Iowa caucuses on February 3, here’s my aggregate opinion of the debates during 2019: As George Gascoigne, considered by many the greatest writer of the early Elizabethan era wrote, but might not have originated, “Too many cooks spoil the broth.” That goes for the number of candidates allowed on the debate stage, some who had as much chance as getting the nomination as I do.)

              You might also remember that between the November and December debates the candidates continued to snipe at each other.

              However, during the holiday season, the candidates seemed to take a break from attacking each other. (Spread the cheer, good will to all, etc.?) But there was one unforced error by Biden that resulted in negative damage to him. A photo of his family’s Christmas greeting omitted his son, Hunter and his wife, resulting in negative on line and print coverage. (If people thought, “What was Biden hiding? You can’t blame them.) There’s a quote from the Bible that says,The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son.” But the question is, “Will the voters blame them both?” For sure, the Republicans will if Biden wins the nomination.

              The quiet period might also have been influenced by the peculiarities of the Iowa poll, in which candidates must receive at least 15% in the first round in order to advance. Supporters of candidates who fail short can then back a second choice. Thus, it’s prudent not to assail rivals and alienate their backers.

              But as Debate # 7, on January 14, grew closer did the making nice by the candidates hold? Not for long. But mostly.

              As 2019 was leaving the scene, Biden’s foreign policy credentials were attacked by both Sen. Sanders and Mayor Pete. Both assailed Biden for his 2002 Iraq war vote.

              Despite the attacks from rival candidates, which were minimal, certainly the muddled Iranian and Iraq situations will play to Biden’s advantage with voters who have short memories. (While the former vice president criticized the way Bush handled the war, he wasn’t against using military action against Iraq.)

              There also were a few interesting happenings in the days leading to Debate # 7.  Steyer, who many people thought would not qualify for the debate did. Michael Bloomberg, who was ineligible for the debate, because he was self financing his campaign, moved up in the polling. And CNN reported that the Sanders campaign attacked Sen. Warren, ending the nonaggression pact between them. Also, Sen. Booker surprised the pundit set (proving them wrong once again) by suspending his presidential quest on January 13, causing anguish for people who don’t recognize white as a color. (Borrowing a pundit’s hat, the only person of color from those vying for the presidential nomination who I thought, and still think, has a chance to be on a national ticket is Sen. Kamala Harris.)

              While complaining to the media about not having a fair chance to debate, the whiners fail to say that the first Democratic debate was the most diverse in the history of a major party’s presidential debates. It included three women and five people of color, including a Latino former Cabinet member, two black U.S. senators and an openly male LGBTQ candidate. (My Take: Maybe instead of complaining about the lack of color on the debate stage, they should seek out candidates like Barack Obama, who I voted for, that can connect to people of all colors.)

              Even though CNN had previously reported that Sen. Sanders’ campaign attacked Sen. Warren that news paled to the accusation by the Massachusetts senator that broke on January 13 (and seemed like a counter-attack by Sen. Warren). Ms. Warren accused Sen. Sanders of saying a woman can’t be elected president, during a 2018 telephone conversation, which the Vermont senator denied. (Which reminds me of what I always told people who reported to me: “In PR agency life, even your best friend isn’t always your best friend.)

              
              
              
              

              It was a certainty that because of President Trump’s tough guy Iraq statements, and his continued threats against Iran, that foreign policy, largely a none starter in the 2019 debates, would be a frequent topic during Debate # 7 and the remainder of the debates. And it was.

              Would you let Iran get a nuclear bomb was a main topic. Also, the deployment of troops in the mid-East. Biden’s position on the Iraq war, which Sen. Sanders attacked, was another. But in general all of the candidates aimed their arrows at President Trump.

              But the big news of the debate was that there wasn’t any big news. Nothing was said, in my opinion, that would get a voter to jump ship and declare for another candidate.

              In fact, it was mostly a Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum debate (or if you prefer a peas in a pod discussion). That’s to be expected, because as the number of candidates dwindle it’s likely that the remaining ones, with minor policy exceptions, will agree with each other. Despite the media labeling candidates progressive or moderate, they’re all liberal.

              There was disagreement among the candidates on trade and how to expand health insurance, but not enough to have the candidates lash out at each other.

              If I had to choose the candidate(s) who I thought stood out during the debate it would be Sen. Sanders and businessman Tom Styer. Sanders differed from the other candidates because of his democratic socialist policy positions, many of which could pass as a left wing Democratic position. Steyer, as he has throughout the

              debates, again brought a fresh new outsiders perspective that separates him from the insiders. As he pointed out several times, he is the only candidate that thinks global warming is the most important issue, and that he has advocated the impeachment of President Trump before anyone else has.

              While there was no highlight of the debate, there was a low light. It was when CNN’s Abby Phillip asked Sens. Warren and Sanders about the latter’s comment about a woman not being able to win the presidency. But the two senators refused to take the bait, Sanders again denying that he made the comment. However, the friendliness between the two senators that was apparent in the other debates wasn’t evident. (What that question had to do in a national political forum only the cable TV political reporters know.) 

              In Debate #6, much of what the candidates said had a short expiration date. Their remarks received limited media attention because of the House impeachment coverage. Remarks made during Debate # 7 will be smothered by coverage of what would happen in Trump’s Senate trial and the continuing Iranian situation.

              Because of the uncertainty of what will happen in the mid-East because of President Trump’s targeted take out of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, I awarded this debate to the Democrats before it began. The debates score in my opinion is now Trump 4, Democrats 3.

              Will the Senate impeachment trial of President Trump have an affect on the next Democratic debate? I certainly don’t know. But I’m not a cable political TV pundit.


              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.

               




              “Wag The Dog” – The Sequel (The Difference Between The Clinton And Trump Scenarios And Media Lessons Learned From Them)

              Arthur Solomon, Public Relations Consultant

              “Wag the Dog” is a 1997 American political satire movie about a PR person who creates a diversion to change the media coverage of the president’s sex scandal. (Any association with Sean Spicer or Kellyanne Conway is purely coincidental.) 

              Many people thought that the idea for the film originated with Bill Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky. But it didn’t. The movie was released before Clinton’s relationship with the White House intern became known. Nevertheless, for many years, when the phrase “wag the dog” is used many people immediately think of Clinton.

              But now the phrase will also forever be connected to President Donald J. Trump because of his order to eliminate Iranian General Qassem Suleimani.

              (“Wag The Dog” is the phrase used for an action that diverts attention from something important to something thought to be less important.)

              Unlike President Clinton, whose association with the term “wag the dog” was coincidental – the movie was released weeks prior to Clinton’s scandal become page one news – many people think President Trump attempted to divert media coverage of his impeachment with the takeout of the Iranian general and Trump’s continuing threats against Iran, and now Iraq, after the Iraqi government voted to have the U.S. military expelled because of the killing on its territory.

              There’s a major difference between the two president’s associations with “Wag The Dog.” Clinton didn’t make his affair with Lewinsky public to coincide with the opening of the movie. Some people think that Trump decided to target the Iranian general in order to redirect media attention from the continuing negative news about his being impeached and his impending trial by the Senate.

              Remember. The subject of the possibility of additional impeachment charges being brought against Trump made headlines during the Congressional holiday break because of the continuing negative new impeachment-related news regarding a Trump cover-up.

              There is a distinct parallel between Trump’s ordering the killing of the Iranian general and Clinton’s actions. Clinton ordered an attack against al-Qaida targets in Afghanistan and Sudan on the day Lewinisky was to testify before a grand jury. Difficult to fault people who think that like Trump’s action it was a coincidence.

              People who believe that Trump is capable of doing only what’s best for him have a valid point. Look at his history:

              • Before becoming president he reneged on contracts with contractors, forcing them to settle for less money than agreed upon.
              • The New York State Attorney General said he paid $2 million to eight charities as part of a settlement in which the president admitted that the Trump Foundation, allegedly a charity, misused funds for his presidential campaign, for settling business debts and other misuse of funds.
              • He agreed to a $25 million dollar class action lawsuit settlement in the scam known as Trump University.
              • He apologized on national TV for his unsavory conduct with women and has been accused of paying off some of them.
              • Despite his tough talk abut illegal immigration, his properties have employed illegal immigrants.

              And those are just the ones we know about. Trump has been said by TV pundits that he is a master of diverting attention regarding negative news about him by disseminating outrageous tweets. That’s only half true, in my opinion.

              While his tweets have received news coverage, mostly by the less than informative commentary on the cable political TV shows, there always was room enough to cover other aspects of Trump’s problems. In fact, the coverage of his tweets in major print pubs, like the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and New York Times, was negative, pointing out the lies in them.

              Regardless of his trying to divert the media’s attention from his impeachment problems, one thing is certain: There’s enough room on the media landscape to cover more than one story at a time. By now, the president should know that.

              The problem for Trump, even if he’s telling the truth about his Iran actions, is that his confirmed history of lying is so long and confirmed that you never know when he’s fabricating facts or speaking with a forked tongue. Thus, if ever there is a movie about Trump my suggested title is “The President Who Cried Wolf.”

              There are important lessons about media relations that PR practitioners should remember from the Trump saga:

              • During a PR crisis, be careful of what you or your client says. Reporters will check on the veracity of statements.
              • You can’t brow beat reporters into writing favorable articles.
              • Your title, the name of your agency or the importance of your client will not intimate reporters. (Want proof: Check the statements of top executives of Boeing, BP and Wells Fargo.)
              • The best minds of self-anointed PR cries specialists can’t stop the flow of negative news. . (Want proof: Check the coverage of Boeing, BP and Wells Fargo.)
              • Once you lie to a reporter whatever you say in the future will be questioned for its validity.
              • No matter how often you or your client repeats the same talking points, it will have no effect on media coverage.
              • And, of course, attempting to divert attention from your client’s PR crisis will not work.

              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.

               

               




              Trump – A Case Study in Building & Maintaining Your Brand Story

              David E. Johnson, CEO, Strategic Vision PR Group

              In today’s polarized world we all know that consumers are no longer looking at just the best price when it comes to selecting a brand. Consumers are looking for a brand that shares their beliefs and has an authentic brand story.  The same also applies in the political arena and we are seeing this play out with the impeachment hearings against Donald Trump.  Since the hearings began, Democrats and many members of the media have been expecting his support to collapse as happened with Richard Nixon during Watergate (these are the same people who expected his support would collapse in 2016).  Yet it hasn’t.  His support has stayed consistent and support for impeachment has fluctuated but remained consistent with President Trump’s approval numbers.

              Why is this? Why after what many have considered to be damaging testimony, has Trump’s poll numbers stayed consistent?

              The answer is quite simple.  Nothing that has come out during the hearings seem inconsistent with the brand of Donald J. Trump that has been built over the decades.  Americans knew Donald J. Trump long before he ran for president in 2016.  They knew him from his many television appearances, The Apprentice franchise, his divorces, “The Art of the Deal”, and much more.  His personal brand was developed in people’s minds whether you liked him or disliked him.  He was loud, obnoxious, driven, egotistical, successful and much more in people’s minds.  He was not seen as a saint or as presidential in the way we have traditionally viewed presidents like Eisenhower, Kennedy, or Reagan.  He was seen as someone who would act like he acted on the Apprentice and countless television appearances in shaking things up and doing it his way.  And that is precisely what his presidency has been.  It is why his base stays loyal to him despite what has come out during the hearings.  As long as nothing comes out that seems to go against the brand identity that Trump has nurtured over the years, his base will remain loyal.

              Now contrast this with Richard Nixon who was forced to resign to avoid impeachment and removal.  Nixon has been re-elected in 1972 in the fourth largest landslide in American history.  Yet within less than two years he was gone from office during the Watergate scandal.  Nixon was a known quantity in America much like Trump is.  Nixon had made his mark in 1948 in exposing Alger Hiss and in 1952 was selected as Dwight Eisenhower’s running mate.  He had been a dominant force in American politics.  His brand was based upon being a smart and ruthless politician yet one with family values.  He had made an issue of calling out Harry Truman for cursing in public. So much so that John Kennedy and others had  poked fun at him.  Yet when the Watergate tapes were released over and over again Americans heard the phrase “expletive deleted” where Nixon was himself cursing.  That is when Nixon’s support among his base collapsed if you go back and look at polls from the era.  He had gone against the brand identity voters had bought into over the decades.

              Remaining true to your brand identity is critical to success both in business and politics.  It is the reason some brands survive despite the crisis and others sink, as Donald Trump gives testimony to during the impeachment hearings.


              David JohnsonAbout the Author: David E. Johnson is the CEO of Strategic Vision PR Group, a public relations and public affairs agency.  Additional information on him and company may be obtained at www.strategicvisionpr.com.




              Would You Call ‘The Mooch’ a Turncoat or a Benedict Arnold for Turning on Trump? Hardly! (Op-Ed)

              Would You Call ‘The Mooch’ a Turncoat or a Benedict Arnold for Turning on Trump

               

              Thomas J. Madden, Chairman and CEO, Transmedia Group

              What’s wrong with switching sides if you see someone you once admired not living up to your ideals? Or not making the country you love “great again” . . . beyond just a slogan! 

              Didn’t Ronald Reagan begin as a Hollywood Democrat, and wasn’t Franklin D. Roosevelt one of his “true heroes?”

              So was Reagan a turncoat when he moved to the right-wing in the 1950’s, became a Republican in 1962, and emerged as a leading conservative spokesman in the Goldwater campaign of 1964 and eventually because President of the United States of America?

              A turncoat?   Hardly? 

              Even though the definition of a turncoat is a person who shifts allegiance from one loyalty or ideal to another, betraying or deserting an original cause by switching to the opposing side or party, does that make you a bad person?  A double-crosser?  A traitor?

              Yet turncoat has a much stealthier, creepier and slimier connotation, like backstabber, betrayer, double-dealer, Judas, quisling, recreant, serpent or snake.

              But is the American financier, entrepreneur, and political consultant Anthony Scaramucci, nicknamed “The Mooch” a snake when he says in interviews his former boss, President Trump, is in a nuclear meltdown mode?

              Or when he appears on CNN saying Trump is out of step and not helping the country, despite Scaramucci having briefly served as his White House Director of Communications from July 21 to July 31, 2017.

              Then there’s this.

              Less than two weeks before Scaramucci broke with President Trump, he hosted a dinner in Manhattan with Donald Trump Jr. apparently in a bid to impress clients.

              The meal described to the Washington Examiner adds intrigue to the timing of Scaramucci’s declaration that Trump is “unstable” and unfit for office.

              Some sources found it odd that Scaramucci would ask Trump Jr. to help promote a business venture — and, according to one account, offer to repay the favor with 2020 fundraisers — just days before vowing to rally ex-officials against Trump.

              Benedict Arnold?

              I’m sure there are probably those among Trump’s most ardent supporters who consider Scaramucci equivalent to a modern-day Benedict Arnold.  But is that fair?

              We all know who Benedict Arnold was, right?

              He was that American military officer who served as a general during the American Revolutionary War, fighting for the American Continental Army before defecting to the British in 1780.

              George Washington had given him his fullest trust and placed him in command of the fortifications at West Point, NY.

              Arnold planned to surrender the fort to British forces, but the plot was discovered in September 1780 and he fled to the British. His name quickly became a byword in the United States for treason and betrayal because he led the British army in battle against the very men whom he had once commanded.

              But most would agree Scaramucci is no Benedict Arnold, in fact far from it, for he always says how much he loves his country and has his country’s best interest at heart when he appears on CNN deploring what his erstwhile hero and boss says and does.

              But would you put Scaramucci in the same side-switching category with a Reagan?

              Hardly! 


              Thomas Madden - In MeToo Times, Careful How You Address Your Internet ‘Connections’About the Author: Madden’s next book “Love Boat 78” will be published in the fall by Mascot Books and available on Amazon, along with his current book, “Is there enough Brady in Trump to the win the inSUPERable Bowl?”




              Personal Reflection on Being An Immigrant in Trump’s America

              Personal Reflection on Being An Immigrant in Trump’s America

              Helio Fred Garcia, Executive Director, Logos Institute for Crisis Management and Executive Leadership

              I am an immigrant, an American by choice.

              I choose to be an American because of all the places in the world – and I’ve been fortunate to have visited or worked in dozens of countries on six continents – this is one of the few places where your birth circumstances do not determine the rest of your life. And where the national aspiration, still a work in progress, encourages us to be our better selves.

              I have been able to build a good life here. I married a wonderful person, and together we’ve raised two remarkable young women. I graduated from two of the finest universities in the land and am a professor at both. I’ve worked with or for some of the best companies in the world.

              I pass as an American, and I carry with me all of the manifestations of white privilege.

              But it wasn’t always so.

              Welcome to America – Now Go Home, Or Else!

              When I arrived from South America as a young child, I was a different from the other kids. I was an easy mark. Scrawny. With an unpronounceable name, a heavy foreign accent, and a very weak command of the English language.

              I was the Other. And I was a target. I was tormented for years by a pack of boys who saw in me an opportunity to feel superior. I was constantly told to go back to where I came from. But what began with taunting and insult and name-calling metastasized into physical violence and sexual humiliation. I was beaten. I was held down by the boys, who took turns peeing on me and then ran off, laughing.

              More than 50 years later I carry scars around my eyes where I was kicked with a heavy boot. Now that I no longer have hair, many other scars are noticeable, especially on the top and back of my head, where I was hit with sticks, with rocks, and in at least one instance, with a brick. I also have scars on my soul.

              But I was also very lucky. I had a number of caring and gifted teachers who made me their project, investing time and love not only in school but also beyond the classroom. Because of them I came of age on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, as a Page, watching the House consider articles of impeachment against President Richard Nixon. Since then I’ve met presidents and prime ministers, one king, several princes, one pope, and hundreds of religious leaders of most of the world’s faith traditions. I’ve advised hundreds of CEOs and public officials. I’ve visited the White House on business three times, under three presidents.

              But in my seventh decade I still have a visceral fear of being alone with men with whom I don’t have a relationship of authority. I avoid sporting events; I don’t hang out with groups of men. I have only a handful of male friends. My therapist advises me that nearly 50 years after the assaults I still suffer from a form of post-traumatic stress disorder. I’m still the cowering little boy terrified of the bullies.

              Semper Fi!

              My father worked for nearly 30 years for the United States Army, teaching soldiers and soldiers-in-training. He and my mother, who never became citizens, are buried in the West Point cemetery. My Dad always told me that there is no greater honor than to teach people who wear the uniform of the armed forces of the United States.

              When I was 21 I became an American citizen. I took an oath affirming that I would protect and defend the constitution and serve the nation. I have done so.

              Although I have never worn the uniform myself, for almost 30 years I have taught and advised senior officers of the United States military – mostly Marines. I have taught dozens of generals and thousands of senior officers and NCOs, and also senior members of each of the other armed services. Almost all of this teaching has been on a pro bono publico basis. It’s my form of national service.

              Teaching at the Marine Corps School of Infantry – East at Camp Lejeune, NC, 2019

              Most of my career has been a form of overcompensation for being inarticulate and powerless. I have worked for some of the top communication consulting firms. For almost 20 years I’ve owned and run a crisis management and leadership communication consulting and coaching firm. Our work helps leaders become better leaders by harnessing their own power with humility and empathy, building trust by connecting meaningfully with others. I’ve written four books about how to use the power of communication for good.

              But I’ve also been acutely aware of the use of communication to hurt, to harm, and to humiliate. And of how dehumanizing and demonizing language can lead some people to commit acts of violence.

              The Tone from the Top

              The Holocaust Museum’s Simon-Skjodt Center for the Prevention of Genocide defines “dangerous speech” as hate speech that, under the right conditions, can influence people to accept, condone and commit violence against members of a group.

              And we’re seeing that kind of speech right now. On July 14 President Trump tweeted about four freshmen members of Congress, all women of color. One, Rep. Ilhan Omar, is a refugee from Somalia, who came to America when she was a child, became an American citizen, and has chosen a career in public service. The others are all American-born citizens. Trump’s tweet:

              “So interesting to see “Progressive” Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done.

              Of course, three of the four did not come from outside the United States. But whether they did or not, “go back to where you came from” is a familiar experience of many immigrants. It is even embodied in U.S. law, as a prime example of racism. The U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, on its website on Immigrants’ Employment Rights, lists it as an explicit example of the kind of language that may violate federal employment laws:

              “Examples of potentially unlawful conduct include insults, taunting, or ethnic epithets, such as making fun of a person’s foreign accent or comments like, ‘Go back to where you came from,’ whether made by supervisors or by co-workers.

              Donald Trump’s statement about these four members of the House of Representatives is merely the most recent manifestation an unprecedented phenomenon: the use of language by a president of the United States that inspires some people to commit violence.

              Former Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, speaking of President Trump in February 2019, said,

              “People really do listen to their leaders… The civility of our dialogue is deviating downward, such that individuals… feel emboldened and, perhaps, even entitled to take matters into his own hands and carry out acts of violence.”

              All four congresswomen report significant increases in death threats against them. But we also see disinhibition that subjects immigrants – and those perceived to be immigrants – to insult, exclusion, and violence.

              Ten days after Trump’s Go Back comments, one of my former students, from China, was spit on by a well-dressed man who shouted, “Stupid Asian, go back to your country.” When I posted that on Facebook, another student, from Peru, shared that the day before a client — a client! — asked where she was from, and then asked, “Why don’t you go back there, then.” Many more of my friends, colleagues, and students have since reported similar experiences, with a noticeable uptick this week.

              I worry about the effect of Trump’s language, which may influence some of his followers to commit violence against his rivals and critics. But I worry more about the current generation of immigrants. However bad my experience was — and it was pretty bad — back then there was no president of the United States inspiring insult, humiliation, and violence against me and other immigrants.


              Helio Fred Garcia asks: Is Trump Responsible for the Violence?About the Author: Helio Fred Garcia is currently writing a book about language that inspires violence, including Donald Trump’s language. The views expressed in this post are his alone, and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization or individual.