Stars Were Born

Huge events are often the launching pads that take the relatively obscure and elevate them to star status. In politics few events are larger than American presidential campaigns. 2016 was no exception. I’d like to discuss a few people who ended up in the right place at the right time.

In November of 1963 President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Most of today’s senior citizens are baby boomers. In 1963 most of us were in school that Friday afternoon and we all remember where we were when we got the news. Dan Rather was doing local news in Dallas. The tragic event thrust him into the limelight and he went on to be a huge news media star for decades. There are probably more but I’d like to talk about two in the media whose careers were catapulted by this election cycle.

The first is Katy Tur of NBC/MSNBC. I have no idea how long she has been around but I never remember hearing of her until this campaign. I’m sure Katy and everyone else thought she drew the short straw at the beginning of the cycle when she was assigned to cover the Trump campaign. Every observer and pundit (including yours truly) thought the Trump campaign was destined to crash and burn early. As I write this I don’t know what happened last night but in any event Trump ended up being the GOP nominee and went all the way to Election Day.

Next is Washington Post reporter David Farenthold. While researching another project I found that my first reference to his work was in July of 2011 but in all honesty I forgot about him until this election. That really means something when you consider that I am a digital subscriber to the Washington Post and read it as part of my daily morning routine. Then Farenthold did a series of reports on Donald Trump’s shady financial activities and lies about charitable donations. Assuming Hillary Clinton won last night Farenthold deserves as much credit as anyone for his reporting on Trump.

I like Tur and Farenthold’s work. Tur tries to be as straight-up as possible considering the treatment she and other reporters get from the Trump camp. That includes an episode where Trump personally called out Tur during one of his rally rants calling the press liars and worse. Considering the element Trump draws to his rallies and their history of violence, getting the masses whipped up against you can be a bit intimidating. That particular incident spurred the hash tag: #I’m with Tur. Farenthold pulled what I call a Harry Truman on Trump – he told the truth on him.

On the other side of the political divide another star that was born was Kellyanne Conway. Conway was Trump’s final Campaign Manager and its de facto main media spokesperson. It seems she has been around the political scene for years but has toiled in obscurity. This position put her in the national spotlight. She was often tasked with defending the indefensible. As if that assignment weren’t difficult enough many times it looked like she was not even in communication with the candidate or other key campaign figures. She can make an excuse for anything, make a negative sound like a positive and find sunshine in a mile deep cave. In other words she is a master spinner and great liar. In right wing politics that makes her a valuable commodity. Unless she chooses to stick with Trump (who is not known for being particularly loyal to females) she will reappear in high profile positions in future campaigns.

You probably expected an analysis of last night’s results in today’s column. I wanted to take any pressure off myself last night and give myself a bit of time to review things before I commented at length. It’s a pretty sure bet that there will be plenty of reviewing of Tuesday night in the coming days!

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