President Donald Trump, third from left, speaks during a reception for House and Senate leaders in the the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Monday, Jan. 23, 2017. He is surrounded by, from left, adviser Jared Kushner, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of Calif., House Speaker Paul Ryan of Wis., and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Donald Trump and the Art of Bad Communication

At this point, why would anyone be surprised. This morning, there they were, a series of tweets, by the most powerful man and leader in the world, President Donald J. Trump. Every time major headlines come out of the White House, you can guarantee two things, that the President will tweet and the media will be in a frenzy. On Wednesday morning, those trends continued with gusto.

A day removed from sending his longtime private security guard to deliver the termination letter to FBI headquarters stating that FBI director James Comey would be fired, President Trump spouted off on social media.

No matter how the President or his team spin, the optics of Comey getting fired are not great. President Trump has every right and power under the Consitution to fire whomever the FBI director may be. This has happened before. In 1993, President Clinton ousted William Sessions as FBI director after Sessions refused to voluntarily step down amid ethical concerns.

That being said, from a communication point, it continues to be amateur hour at the White House. The White House is saying that all of Washington (see Trump’s tweet above) lost confidence in Comey, yet Sean Spicer, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and Kellyanne Conway have yet to explain what led the President to this direct move. As communicators, their job is to answer the why. They are the information branch of the White House. The President and members of his press staff should heed by the words in Psalm 37, “the mouths of the righteous utter wisdom, and their tongues speak what is just.”

For whatever reason, the President and his staff are still under the idea that all publicity is good publicity. That may have been the case on Page Six of the New York tabloids, but that does not work for the Commander and Chief. Ratings last only so long. The American people will eventually get tired of this act.

Words (or in this case tweets) of a President matter. Great leaders always use their words to challenge, inspire, and uplift. FDR’s fireside chats, Kennedy’s inaugural, Reagan against communism, Lincoln at Gettysburg, or President Bush after September 11th. Great communication is not only about speaking well, but it is also the ability to paint a picture of hope. We need a President that we can trust when he speaks or tweets to the American public.  For the good of the republic, dumbing down truthfulness, irreverent babble, attacking senators, or yelling “fake news” does not bring clarity.


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Clayton Felts

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