Balancing Trump – Can Journalists Confront Bullies?

It was personal for me when Hillary Clinton calmly responded to the racist tone of the current presidential campaign: “Everywhere I go, people tell me how concerned they are by the divisive rhetoric coming from my opponent in this election.” She sounded so different than she has in other speeches. With just the right tone, she went point by point backed up by fact after fact. And then everything turned upside down. Uncomfortable with gray areas, talk show hosts and pundits quickly reframed the dialog as a schoolyard scrap.

…the meme of both sides dragging the presidential campaign to new lows has taken hold across the media. This palpably absurd argument was being stated as the sad truth across the Sunday shows this morning. – Huffington Post 8/28/16

Lessons Learned Fighting Bullies

A newsroom that goes with “he said, she said” when a call can be made is engaged in reckless behavior that may easily blow up in its face. That wasn’t true ten years ago. But it is now. – Jay Rosen, Press Think,

I took a break from blogging about a year ago. Suddenly site visits on my website and Facebook page have taken an unexpected uptick. Given that the topic is workplace bullying, my guess is that watching journalists fail to rein in the damaging and often ludicrous misinformation that Donald Trump and his spox people hurl is triggering painful memories for victims/targets of toxic bosses. Those of us who’ve had our health, finances and careers turned upside down or destroyed by an abusive boss know all too well how difficult it is to have a meaningful conversation once the “he said, she said” door is opened.

That sense of helplessness this causes is, at least for me, one of the most devastating aspects of bullying. It’s that horrifying moment when people you’re confiding in and desperately relying on for help suddenly look uncomfortable as they recognize the reality of your situation. How much do sympathetic co-workers really want to risk their job by getting involved? How eager is the C-Suite to upset the status quo? Offering support makes witnesses as toxic and vulnerable as you. If you’ve never been bullied at work and can’t relate to any of this just look at the turmoil inside the Republican party and the telling silence of Paul Ryan and John McCain. Crickets.

Almost a year ago Dana Milbank wrote in the Washington Post: “Bystanders and other adults — in this case, let’s apply the term loosely to supporters, party officials and journalists — have a role, too: Because “those who bully are encouraged by the attention that they receive from bystanders,” those who witness bullying can “blatantly state that they don’t think bullying is entertaining or funny,” and perhaps even “create a distraction” to deny the bully attention. All of us can ‘commit to making it stop and consistently support the bullied candidate.’ ”  Several months later Trump’s abusive behavior earned him the nomination. “I am who I am,” says Trump. By now we should take him at his word.

“There are two sides to every story…”  Not always

False balance is a real or perceived media bias in which journalists present an issue as being more balanced between opposing viewpoints than the evidence actually supports.. – Wikipedia

I think that False equivalence or balance, is a dangerous rabbit hole for journalists and mirrors the failure of traditional mediation strategies to effectively address the power imbalances in workplace bullying. Luckily not all journalists have lost their way in false balance land:

To sum up, Trump has been referring to the “bigotry” of Clinton for several weeks. And he outright called Clinton a “bigot” a day before she launched a full-scale attack on the racist overtones in the Trump campaign. (Though she stopped short of directly labeling Trump a “racist” or “bigot.) But even if Clinton’s “alt-right” speech had come before Trump directly called her a bigot, [NJ Governor] Christie’s “she-started-it” claim doesn’t hold water, because it doesn’t make sense to call Clinton a bigot in the first place. – Washington Post, The Fix

The objective is to create confusion. The bigger the mess, the better. This way, the focus of attention shifts away from the devastating criticism because everyone becomes caught up in the food-fight. This is Trump’s playbook. He is the circus ringmaster who creates all sorts of spectacles to divert attention away from his own disqualifying inadequacies. CNN

for realThe weekend that Trump decided to go after a Gold Star family I knew I was in trouble. How was I going to make it until election day with Trump’s bullying behavior on full display? To avoid having my family, friends and colleagues unfriend me on Facebook, I’ve taken to Twitter. Trump is driving the news cycles and that means Twitter is where news breaks. All of a sudden everything erupts – right there in your Twitter feed. @SopanDeb @KatieTurNBC @AliVitali all live tweet Trumps rallies. Journalists, pundits, researchers and the rest of us all get to respond as passionately and fervently and often as desired without losing followers. And, that’s where I’ve found the balance I need. Right there in the thick of it all. Tweets with links to great in-depth articles, satirical tweet accounts, bizarre defenses of the indefensible and others, like myself, just trying to fathom the unfathomable. You can heart them, retweet them or just let them fly by. It’s all there. It’s the “new objectivity.”

greatest movement

2 thoughts on “Balancing Trump – Can Journalists Confront Bullies?

  1. It is true that colleagues will shock you when they melt away through fear of becoming victims themselves. However there are two reasons why this abusive behaviour continues to thrive; – the first is small practice of the adage “Do nothing and you’re taking part”, which would be cured by adoption of the second reason, which is as follows: …… It is astonishing that many other forms of damaging abuse are rightly punishable by law, yet this life-changing and prosperity-reducing form is still allowable, and protected. The only way to stop it is to castigate proven occurrence by legal activity that should see perpetrators entered on a new national “Employment Offences Register” which would curtail any future employment in positions of authority.


  2. Reblogged this on bullying in the workplace and commented:
    Wow…do you see Trump as a bully? Oh yes, in my opinion! I do not think the journalist are able to really handle Trump on the campaign trail. I believe there is some lack of understanding-but again, are they just shocked of how low or high he goes? Is Trump expressing his “white privilege” as commented by so many? I would love to hear your thoughts on Trump whether you agree or disagree.


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