Friday, June 8, 2018

More Than An Echo Chamber

A couple of things flashed across my radar screen over the past few days. One is a comment that Sean Spicer, President Trump's first Press Secretary, made in a recent interview with Rolling Stone magazine. In it, Spicer commented on the fact that, at times, serving as the chief spokesperson for the President of the United States was a "lonely" job. He felt totally alone answering questions about his boss with no one around to lean on or guide him. Who wouldn't feel lonely under such circumstances? One of the big mistakes he made, Spicer said, was not first checking with his boss about how he would respond to anticipated questions about issues of the day.

Without question, I do not know of many or any spokespersons who would not feel lonely if they performed their day-to-day job without first conferring with the person for whom they were speaking. As an example, Spicer pointed to his premier foray with the press: discussing the size of the audience that turned out for Trump's inauguration ceremony. Spicer says he did not first confer with The President over how he would discuss the issue, including his comments on the press coverage of this historic event. While he admitted he was accurately reflecting Trump's perspective, Spicer conceded the specific words - judged by the press to be inflammatory - he used were his own.

Coinciding with this, Spicer says he saw his job as simply echoing the words and/or feelings of his boss without making any effort to provide council as to how they might be perceived. A good press spokesperson does more than simply serve as a client's echo chamber. Ideally, they should be experienced and skilled enough to offer insight as to how best to communicate particular words and views without alienating those with whom one is trying to connect. Looking back, one can argue that the Untied States deserves better than Trump. In fairness, Trump deserved better than Spicer. Sadly, he has also deserved better than the multiple persons who have followed in Spicer's footsteps.

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