Last week a White House aide made a comment about Arizona Republican Senator John McCain that most charitably can be described as insensitive. The administration’s reaction was to be outraged that it leaked to the press. There is a lot here and almost all of it is nauseating. Let’s explore.
Stories of people working diligently at their jobs don’t sell. Outrage sells. Cute puppy stories are short closing segments on the late night news while stories of violence and outrage are the leads. This White House has more outrage than a one hour news program can cover. Conclusion number one is: This White House leaks so much because there is an abundance of material to leak.
Organizational culture starts at the top. Donald Trump has been a publicity hound since his early days. He has a history of acting as his own “press agent” to secure tabloid ink. Currently Trump reportedly has an almost nightly “bedtime call” with Fox News’ Sean Hannity. Conclusion number two: If the boss leaks why, wouldn’t his underlings?
For someone young who is looking for a future in politics working at the White House is a dream job. That is unless the White House you are working in is total chaos and could become an “unpardonable sin” on your resume. Particularly in that event developing a relationship with a reporter(s) is sort of an insurance policy for future employment. Regardless of rhetoric to the contrary this White House cannot recruit the best and the brightest. That also means that most staffers are not in a position to leave because there are not a lot of viable employment alternatives out there for them. This is even true at the senior staff ranks. (Keep that in mind as you read about people like Sarah Huckabee-Sanders, Mick Mulvaney and Mercedes Schlapp. Does anyone really feel they would occupy the same positions in any other White House?) Conclusion number three: White House staffers realize this is not going to end well and are hedging their bets in an attempt to secure a better future.
Now let me illustrate much of the above by discussing a recent and appalling incident. While I often disagree with him on policy and did not vote for him in 2008 I have tremendous respect for John McCain and feel all Americans, regardless of political affiliation or philosophy, should.
During a recent staff meeting, led by Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah, McCain’s lack of support for CIA Director Nominee Gina Haspel was the topic of discussion. Kelly Sadler reportedly stated (she later said joked) that his opinion didn’t matter because, “He’s dying anyway.” McCain is fighting for his life against a deadly form of cancer and the prognosis isn’t very encouraging. Nonetheless, McCain was a Navy officer who served admirably during the Vietnam War. He was shot down and spent years in the Hanoi Hilton where he was repeatedly beaten and tortured. He refused to accept an early release from the POW camp which was only offered because his father was a high ranking admiral. There is an unwritten rule among American POW’s of first in, first out. Had he taken the early out it would have been used as propaganda that would have demoralized other POW’s, the troops and fueled the anti-war movement that McCain disagreed with. Regardless of how you feel or felt about the Vietnam War you have to admire McCain’s actions. In my mind he is unquestionably a war hero.
In the aftermath of the reporting of the incident the administration’s rage was not at the comment, (why is it that every time Trump or his minions says something indefensible they term it a joke?), it was about the leak. Trump called the leakers (reportedly there were five sources) “Traitors and cowards”. (I feel in Trump’s case that would be an honest self-assessment if in the singular.) White House Director of Strategic Communications and wife of radical right winger Matt Schlapp, Mercedes Schlapp, reportedly took Sadler’s side in a subsequent meeting when she said, “You can put this on the record…I stand with Kelly Sadler.” Apparently Schlapp was taken at her word because that statement also leaked to the press.
OMB Director Mick Mulvaney took to the Sunday talk shows and was furious at the leak; not so much at Sadler’s statement. That’s like being concerned about who called 911 not who shot the sheriff.
Reportedly Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee-Sanders held a meeting at which she was furious over the leaks and proclaimed that the existence of the meeting along with her angry remarks would leak; she was correct. While it is refreshing to see the Press Secretary correct for a change I’d like to see her anger directed at the real problem.
Monday, Shah handled the daily press briefing. Peppered with anticipatable questions he replied that the matter was being, “Dealt with internally.” Translated into truthful English that means that if the heat doesn’t get too high nothing will be done to discipline Sadler. After all Trump has said worse about McCain and a plethora of other.
When the leader’s true objectives are selfish and he surrounds himself with incompetents all of whom are continually engaged in the outrageous leaks are inevitable.
This article is the property of tellthetruthonthem.com and its content may not be used without citing the source. It may not be reproduced without the permission of Larry Marciniak.