The ‘Trump Media War’ Escalates!
CNN and Acosta are taking the extraordinary step to sue POTUS over last week’s fiery news conference. According to the suit, CNN believes Trump violated its First Amendment right by revoking Acosta’s “hard pass” . Thereby hampering his ability to cover the White House.
Thoughts on the “Acosta/CNN vs. the White House” press pass debacle that just escalated the Trump Media War to the lawsuit level. And some tips for companies thinking of pulling someone’s credentials.
In our opinion, the White House blew this controversy way out of proportion by pulling Jim Acosta’s “hard pass”. Now they have an even bigger mess on their hands. Pulling a reporter’s credentials should be done as a LAST RESORT, only when a CLEAR violation has been committed. If that action has to be argued, especially in court, it was the wrong move.
To be clear, CNN apparently has no issue (and perhaps encourages, wink, wink, ratings) their reporters to grandstand, as the White House has pointed out. That’s especially true in Jim Acosta’s case. He has garnered a reputation and a following for injecting his personal situation/opinion into many a report (“my grandfather was a Cuban immigrant”, “the Caravan is not an invasion”, etc). He is widely seen as President Trump’s top agitator and does not shy away from hiding his PERSONAL feelings on any issue.
The fact is, in the last few years the line between ‘reporter’ and ‘pundit’ or opinion writer has blurred, to the detriment of journalism everywhere. Reporters and news organizations should NEVER become part of the story. However, in the struggle to stand out amid the social media/internet din sadly, this has become the norm. A ‘hot take’ is now ‘reporting’.
That said, like most of their other PR controversies, the White House has handled this horribly. They simply have no sense or no regard, for the fallout after their knee-jerk reactions. The White House staff and the President could have diffused this in a number of different ways and you can do the same! (more on this in our brand media training or crisis communications training programs)
- The could have simply not called on Jim Acosta – a novel idea!
- They didn’t have to hand over the microphone in the first place, they could have had someone else (like the infamous intern) hold it for everyone.
- Have some press conference rules to begin with – each reporter gets one question and a follow up or assign a time limit that every reporter must abide by.
- Answer a reporter’s challenging, annoying questions using proper MEDIA TRAINING Rules/Tools and move on (ie, the answer/non-answer, use a bridge to a talking point, deflections, etc.)
- After the presser pull the reporter aside or have a sit down with CNN to talk over the dispute and if need be, implement changes.
After those and other methods, if pulling a credential seems like the only option, give your reasons immediately and clearly. That did NOT happen in this case.
Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders initially said Acosta had “assaulted an intern” by blocking the woman’s arm when she tried to take the microphone back. They said he acted unprofessionally. They reportedly used a doctored video from an unauthorized source to back up their claims. All of those responses inflamed the controversy.
Their response to today’s lawsuit was to say Acosta was “monopolizing the floor”. They added, “this was not the first time this reporter has inappropriately refused to yield to other reporters”. That’s a far cry from assaulting an intern. It’s not much of a First Amendment legal defense either.
What it boils down to is the President just doesn’t like Acosta’s style or the questions he asks. So, he pushed the Nuclear Button in this Media War and pulled his ‘hard pass’.
Former press secretary Ari Fleisher pointed this out on Twitter: Acosta “has access to the White House, the same every other opinion writer or op-ed writer has. He remains a member of the press corps and he can apply for a daily WH press pass. The only thing he lost is a hard pass, which clears him daily w/o need for a day pass.”
Fleisher has a point. (and apparently, an update!)
Still, none of it is a good look for the White House OR Jim Acosta/CNN.
The Trump Media War continues … stay tuned.
We can help you with press conference set up, credentialing rules and handling those ‘annoying’ reporters with their tough questions!
Give us a call at 206-900-6579 or send us an email at info@FRMediaTrain.com
Anyone worried about the volatility in the stock market, like I am? To understand it better I’ve been watching CNBC a bit more but I’m no finance/investment expert and sometimes I get lost. Not just in the numbers but in the language, the jargon.
A shame really, because to grow an audience, one would think outsiders need to get the message Hello, MEDIA TRAINING! Below are few examples from this afternoon’s Squawk on the Street.
Ari Wald is the Head of Technical Analysis for Oppenheimer. He knows his stuff and is clearly personable and comfortable on camera but listen to his comments on the issue of Amazon’s price drop:
“Given the macro backdrop”, “shape of the yield curve”, “no support levels have been breached”, huh?
That was so full of jargon Finance 101 for dummieswas my first google destination! – 34 seconds of “moneyspeak” to get to the last line “Amazon’s a winner, let it run”.
Now, for comparison take the opposite guest, Gina Sanchez, CEO of Chantico Global.
She picked one side of an argument and delivered her opinion, backing it up in a way that anyone could relate to.
Again, it’s clear Wald knows his stuff and I assume Wall Street and hardcore viewers understand what he’s talking about. Will the entire audience, a new audience?
You often find some of the same disconnect in Silicon Valley. Some Exec’s and engineers spew so much “Tech Speak” the message gets lost. If you want to masses to know about your product or service, that pitch needs to be relayed in language EVERYONE can understand.
Wald did a much better job in this clip about Snap, Inc. even getting in a great “falling knife” analogy. However, he was once again overshadowed by the second guest, Boris Schlossberg, who was quite convincing by comparing Snap to MySpace and finishing with, “…it’s a dead man walking!”
Unfortunately for Snap, Inc. I understood that completely!
Need some help moving from “MoneySpeak” or “TechSpeak” to language EVERYONE can understand? In just one four hour session, FRMediaTrain can make sure your message is heard loud and clear. Shoot us an email email@example.com or comment below for a free consultation!
Here’s a clip we’re proud of: William Bruzzo, an Orange County defense attorney and former Marine was asked by i24TV to talk about the legal strategy of President Trump’s newest lawyer, one Rudolph Giuliani.
We love the fact that right out of the gate, he gave definitive answers and cited several examples (Nixon, his own experience) to back those points up. Not shy about blasting the administration, by our count he worked in no less that six great lines to get his point across. He was clearly prepared and delivered in context, grabbing the viewers attention quickly!
How about this one, “Trump may own the circus, but the latest Ringmaster is Giuliani” or “It’s almost as if Giuliani was sleepwalking through this thing, or talking casually to his family at Thanksgiving dinner”, “I’m not sure he knows what he’s doing”! Bruzzo does, well crafted, opinionated, well delivered. Bravo, Sir, Bravo!
(and yes, we helped refine that ability to answer questions AND entertain, media training works!) Send us an email if you’re interested in doing the same: info@FRMediaTrain.com
Five days of silence, then a Post on his page, then an interview on CNN.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg has finally broken his silence and addressed the numerous scandals his company has faced recently, culminating in the Cambridge Analytica data breach. (See our previous post for detailed info on what a rocky six months it has been for the social media giant)
Here’s a clip from CNN last night where Zuckerburg gave his FIRST real (if canned and nervously delivered) apology.
Now a Confession- I set up my Facebook account in 2006 to be able to track down the teenage friends of recent victims of crimes, auto accidents or some other peril that was destined to lead our newscasts that night at Channel 4 in Washington, D.C. It was a great tool – you could find most everyone right there on one website and by going through their page learn A LOT about them in a short amount of time.
Fast forward to today, that data (and more) that I so easily found, is being used in much more manipulative and some would say nefarious ways. Which brings us to baby faced and seemingly innocent looking Mark Zuckerberg — who in his mea culpa opportunity with CNN and others — failed the most basic PR principle when addressing a crisis; respond quickly and apologize. I believe FB’s customers deserved both immediately and perhaps even back in 2015 when they first learned of this breach.
Had I been inside the FB corporate bubble these past five days I would have deployed my best persuasion techniques to encourage the company to be very public and transparent about the problem and the new privacy change fixes that Zuckerburg so easily put in his Wednesday “post”.
As many companies have found, United Airlines, Equifax, Chipotle, in a crisis you rarely have the luxury of sitting in silence and waiting for all of the facts – guess what? you’ll never that luxury of knowing all of the facts, that much Zuckerburg even admitted later in the CNN interview.
Waiting merely allows others to quickly fill the void with speculation and brand damaging opinion. As this clip from one of our training sessions shows, we ENCOURAGE speaking up at the first sign of a crisis. Let’s put that fire out before it grows into an inferno!
The Facebook community is more like a country – 2 billion strong – failing to address a crisis ‘in the moment’ is a failure of leadership. Hiding from crisis as Mr. Zuckerberg has learned makes you part of the problem and damages the public trust you’ve worked so hard to build.
Sound PR practices applied to handling any crisis – that is the solution and is the sign of a true leader. Hey Mark, you helped me with those searches more than a decade ago, give us a call, we’ll return the favor when your next crisis hits. (and we fear, it’s just around the corner)!
If it takes Twitter hashtags (#WheresZuck, #DeleteFacebook) to finally go in front of a camera and make a statement defending your brand in the midst of a growing crisis – you’re doing it wrong.
There’s no argument Facebook is going through the biggest crisis it has ever faced. The allegation that data on 50 million users of the social media network had been taken from the company and used by Cambridge Analytica, a data analysis firm used by the Trump presidential campaign will no doubt lead to massive change in the companies privacy policies (again!) and could also lead to federal regulation. Three states and the FTC have launched investigations in the past few days.
All of this comes on the heels of the “Fake News” revelations late last year and the admission by the internet giant that Russian trolls’ weaponized the platform to cause divisiveness among users and interfere in the 2016 election.
Yet CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, the two very public “faces” of Facebook have remained silent. Only today has word come out that Zuckerberg will make a statement “.. sometime Wednesday”. Axios is reporting that Zuckerberg’s remarks “will aim to rebuild trust.”
Well, guess what Zuck? Too late for that. The prolonged silence exacerbated that damage and made the company look unorganized at best and guilty of hiding something at worst.
This didn’t help either – prompted by numerous media inquiries a Facebook spokesperson released this written statement late Tuesday:
Already playing the Blame Game?
According to a CNN report even some top-level executives are frustrated by the lack of transparency and accountability from Zuckerberg and Sandberg.
“These things have so much nuance in them,” a top-level executive said. “Every answer has tradeoffs.” The public rarely gets insight into the behind-the-scenes conversations at Facebook, even when the decisions made during them could impact a significant portion of the population. “We want to tell the public more…tell the hard story more. If we don’t tell it, people write it for us,” he added.
THAT IS EXACTLY what we tell our clients here at FRMediaTrain. “If you’re not telling your story, you can bet someone else is!”
Axios, which first reported Zuckerberg’s “plan”, said the CEO wanted to say something meaningful rather than pushing out a comment quickly. At first glance and thought understandable, but definitely the WRONG strategy. What is prevening you from doing both (meaningful and quick) ?? According to the report Zuckerberg has been speaking to engineers about how to make its website more secure, and make people feel their data is safe. Sorry Mark, that horse has left the barn.
It will be interesting to hear his comments later today – especially considering Facebook has been under pressure to explain why they didn’t notify users that its data been used in a way that violated its terms of service — since it learned of the violation in 2015!
What used to be called “Politics” is all the rage on cable news these days. From the moves (and tweets) coming out of the White House to the divide on Capitol Hill – nearly every night there’s something new for pundits to debate.
One might think, at some point, the audience would burn out. But there seems to be no sign of that. Ratings rise like Amazon stock and the echo chambers are in control. Viewers enjoy – and have come to expect – hearing, like-minded commentary and spin, regardless of the issue. They tune-in in record numbers to validate their own opinions, branding the opposite side “fake news”. The networks are of course complicit because having a fervent, dedicated audience is a cash cow. But that’s a topic for another post… The point here is watching that nightly spin is often times monotonous and predictable, which is why it’s refreshing to hear someone on the other side of the aisle give a straight but also entertaining answer to a question that could easily have been another chapter in that spin cycle.
Take notes kids! During a recent appearance on MSNBC’s “11th Hour” Mike Murphy, a Republican strategist was asked about the Democrats big gubernatorial wins in Virginia and New Jersey and what it might mean for the 2018 mid-term elections. Listen to this! —>
Murphy broke it down in two minutes, reminding us of his political experience and adding flair to his answer by featuring 5 or 6 memorable phrases and analogies. From “he couldn’t deliver a pizza “, to “it’s like living in Sparta”, he had the anchor and the other guest laughing and nodding their heads.
He absolutely STOLE a 10-minute segment on election politics with that single answer. It’s a big reason, along of course, with his credentials – that keeps the phone ringing and his calendar booked.
The lesson is simple: In today’s saturated political talk-fest it’s good to be an expert. But in order for your commentary to resonate you must be entertaining as well.
FRMediaTrain can teach you how to be an “Entertaining Expert”.