Tuesday, September 8, 2020
A Challenge for the Ages
It is a public relations challenge that scholars and practitioners will discuss for years to come. A standing president of the United States is quoted as calling those who have served in the military and, in numerous cases, given their lives in doing so "suckers" and "losers." Firstly, it is unbelievable that anyone might hold such an opinion, but mind-numbing that one such person who does is the commander in chief who oversees that same military. As this was just disclosed only a few days ago, the fall-out from his remarks remains to be seen. Not surprisingly, however, as I write this indications are that outrage is building. In response to the article, President Trump contines to deny strongly that he ever made those comments. The denial comes despite the fact numerous media outlets have corroberated the story. This brings us to the challenge now before the President's media representatives. What do they do? What do they say? How do they handle this challenge? One such hurdle is the President's well-documented history of criticising various military veterans who were captured by enemy forces. Then there is the matter of negative comments he has made over the years about Gold Star families whose children were killed while serving. The odds, it seems, are stacked heavily against those men and women currently faced with the task of defending their "boss." On first glance, the strategy currently being put forth to deny the story and charge the press with making a gross error seems to make the most sense. With that, the controversy becomes one person's word against another's. No doubt this gives the President's defenders enough of a lifeline to which to cling to justify their ongoing support. But then there is the sticky matter of truth. The President has a serious credibility problem any way. If he is lying about this as many believe, then his standing as a public figure is doomed. I will be sharing more thoughts on this in future entries.