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

Workplace Bullying? #StopThatNow

To kick off “October is Bullying Awareness Month,” the National Workplace Bullying Coalition launched their #StopThatNow sign the pledge campaign asking everyone in the workplace to remember that bullying isn’t just in the schoolyard anymore. Millions of American workers, reportedly 1 in 4, suffer from workplace bullying, an epidemic form of abuse that is directly linked to severe anxiety, depression, debilitating physical harm and even suicide. The vast majority of these targets are unprotected and have no legal recourse. For many, the only hope is to quit and face chronic unemployment. How can we stop this?

“Everyone needs to show support for their co-workers or employees and signing the online pledge to be Bully-Free is an excellent place to start,” says Catherine Mattice, NWBC Board Officer, author and founder of Civility Partners, LLC. “Our Pledge is part of the Coalition’s mission to bring together legislators, legal experts for both business interests and employees, labor leaders, business consultants and other interested parties to develop solutions.”  Continue reading

New Hampshire Legislature Passes Workplace Bullying Law

new hampshire workplace bullying legislationBack in February we highlighted union backed legislation that was pushing through New Hampshire. On June 4 it officially passed through the House and Senate.

Similar to the bill that whizzed through Tennessee, HB 0591  is limited to Public Employees and emphasizes the need to implement policies and training. We would all love to see stand alone legislation with all the protections employees deserve but this growing trend that focuses on finding ways to pass legislation has infused energy and movement into a previously stalled campaign. And, more importantly, workers are beginning to have protection from devastating psychological abuse. Union efforts in California has ensured that other states are not far behind. Hopefully legislators in New York and other states around the country will begin to adopt this winning template to protect their employees. Can private employers be far behind? Continue reading

Tennessee Enacts Law to Prevent Workplace Bullying – But…

SB2226: Any person injured by any act in violation of this bill will have a civil cause of action in chancery court or circuit court…When an employer or employee is found to be in violation, the court may enjoin such employer or employee from engaging in the unlawful employment practice and may order any other relief necessary, including, but not limited to, the removal of the offending party from said work environment, medical expenses, compensation for pain and suffering, compensation for emotional distress, punitive damages and attorney’s fees.  NOT!

Wouldn’t that paragraph have thrilled the hearts of all of us involved in the effort to pass abusive conduct legislation to protect employees? But, that’s not the portion of SB2226 that the Tennessee State Senate approved or the Governor signed. What they did enact “requires the Tennessee advisory commission on intergovernmental relations (TACIR), in consultation with the department of human resources and interested local government organizations, to create a model policy for local governments to prevent abusive conduct in their workplaces workplace. The model policy shall:

(1) Assist employers in recognizing and responding to abusive conduct in the workplace; and
(2) Prevent retaliation against any employee who has reported abusive conduct in the workplace. Continue reading

California Could Be First State To Take On Workplace Bullying

Milestone legislation requiring employers with 50+ employees add workplace bullying to already existing harassment training and education is making great headway in California. Stepping up legislation already on the books is long overdue. This bill is sponsored by Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez and fueled by the efforts of Teamsters Local 2010, the Union of Clerical and Allied Service Workers of the University of California. Last month Union members testified at the State Capitol in support of the bill and received a unanimous bipartisan vote out of committee: Continue reading

Did Victim of Workplace Bullying Fake Mental Injuries?

This disturbing article by Noel Towell in the Sydney Morning Herald presents the story of a man who claimed an abusive boss left him in need of electroshock therapy countered by the healthy picture of this same man on surveillance DVDs gathered by his employer: Continue reading