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Controversy at Forbes

Discussion in 'North American Politics' started by Sunstone, Jan 18, 2021.

  1. Sunstone

    Sunstone De Diablo Del Fora
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    Not sure what I think of this yet. Might be necessary, even absolutely necessary, but... can't argue it isn't dangerous on multiple levels.

    Anyway, a Forbes Magazine editor didn't wait long. January 7th, the day after the Capitol Building was stormed by Trump inspired insurrectionists, some of whom were bent on murdering elected officials -- including Mike Pence and Nancy Pelosi -- the Chief Content Editor, Randall Lane, decided to take it upon himself to strike back and hard at some of Trump's key enablers. He published this as editorial content:

    Yesterday’s insurrection was rooted in lies. That a fair election was stolen. That a significant defeat was actually a landslide victory. That the world’s oldest democracy, ingeniously insulated via autonomous state voting regimens, is a rigged system. Such lies-upon-lies, repeated frequently and fervently, provided the kindling, the spark, the gasoline.

    That Donald Trump devolved from commander-in-chief to liar-in-chief didn’t surprise Forbes: As we’ve chronicled early and often, for all his billions and Barnum-like abilities, he’s been shamelessly exaggerating and prevaricating to our faces for almost four decades. More astonishing: the number of people willing to lend credence to that obvious mendacity on his behalf.

    In this time of transition – and pain – reinvigorating democracy requires a reckoning. A truth reckoning. Starting with the people paid by the People to inform the People.

    As someone in the business of facts, it’s been especially painful to watch President Trump’s press secretaries debase themselves. Yes, as with their political bosses, spins and omissions and exaggerations are part of the game. But ultimately in PR, core credibility is the coin of the realm.

    From Day One at the Trump White House, up has been down, yes has been no, failure has been success. Sean Spicer set the tone with the inauguration crowd size – the worst kind of whopper, as it demanded that people disbelieve their own eyes. The next day, Kellyanne Conway defended Spicer’s lie with a new term, “alternative facts.” Spicer’s successor, Sarah Huckabee Sanders lied at scale, from smearing those who accused Trump of sexual harassment to conjuring jobs statistics. Her successor, Stephanie Grisham, over the course of a year, never even held a press conference, though the BS continued unabated across friendly outlets. And finally, Kayleigh McEnany, Harvard Law graduate, a propaganda prodigy at 32 who makes smiling falsehood an art form. All of this magnified by journalists too often following an old playbook ill-prepared for an Orwellian communication era.

    As American democracy rebounds, we need to return to a standard of truth when it comes to how the government communicates with the governed. The easiest way to do that, from where I sit, is to create repercussions for those who don’t follow the civic norms. Trump’s lawyers lie gleefully to the press and public, but those lies, magically, almost never made it into briefs and arguments – contempt, perjury and disbarment keep the professional standards high.

    So what’s the parallel in the dark arts of communication? Simple: Don’t let the chronic liars cash in on their dishonesty. Press secretaries like Joe Lockhart, Ari Fleischer and Jay Carney, who left the White House with their reputations in various stages of intact, made millions taking their skills — and credibility — to corporate America. Trump’s liars don’t merit that same golden parachute. Let it be known to the business world: Hire any of Trump’s fellow fabulists above, and Forbes will assume that everything your company or firm talks about is a lie. We’re going to scrutinize, double-check, investigate with the same skepticism we’d approach a Trump tweet. Want to ensure the world’s biggest business media brand approaches you as a potential funnel of disinformation? Then hire away.

    This isn’t cancel culture, which is a societal blight. (There’s surely a nice living for each of these press secretaries on the true-believer circuit.) Nor is this politically motivated, as Forbes’ pro-entrepreneur, pro-growth worldview has generally placed it in the right-of-center camp over the past century — this standard needs to apply to liars from either party. It’s just a realization that, as Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said, in a thriving democracy, everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts. Our national reset starts there.

    [Source]
    Then yet another strange thing happened. After waiting almost one week before saying anything about Randall's message, Steve Forbes, the CEO, went on Fox and Friends to announce that Forbes was "not going to have blacklists and the like", after likening Randall's announcement to McCarthyism.

    Hm... waited almost a week, eh? Can only mean one thing. Steve needs to check his messages more often.

    What do you make of all this? I'm especially interested in your take on (1) whether Randall's message will still have some effect on the job prospects of ex-Trump enablers, (2) why Steve Forbes waited almost a week to contradict it -- and is that to be read as a tacit endorsement of Randall's message, (3) whether major corporations might at this point be inclined shun ex-Trump enablers anyway, and (4) it seems corporate America is turning its back on Trump -- will it turn its back on Trump's enablers, too?

    By the way, here's something else: There are some reports that ordinary civil servants who worked in the White House during the Trump presidency are complaining they can't find anyone who will hire them, and in some cases are even having trouble getting interviews. Don't know how reliable those reports are.

    Now, in all my readings in history, I've never come across any account of times similar to ours in which things didn't get a thousand ways ugly. Yet, as a rule of thumb, the higher up you were, the softer your fall. It's always the lesser actors that get punished the hardest.

    Last, I agree with Randall on at least one point: The way up and out of this mess (if there is one) starts with robust intolerance for lies and liars. You cannot have a democracy without reliable information the norm, and unreliable information the deviation.



     
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  2. Evangelicalhumanist

    Evangelicalhumanist "Truth" isn't a thing...
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    Well, I did suggest in another thread that I think it might be a good idea to provide for fines for messages that are purported to be "news," but are in fact false -- and could have been known to have been false throught simple fact-checking -- should be liable to stiff fines.

    That leaves op-ed completely open, and that's consistent with freedom of speech and opinion, and I don't at all disgree with it. But I think it may well be possible to at least clean up what is pretended to be "News." Or at least get the purveyors of falsehood to label it something else. Hopefully to their own detriment.
     
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  3. Sunstone

    Sunstone De Diablo Del Fora
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    Honestly, I'm not sure Randall was doing anything more than making public and explicit what's likely to happen anyway. What Fortune 500 or even Fortune 1000 is going to hire a spokesperson who people recall as one of Trump's?

    Imagine it....

    You're IBM's new CEO and this is your big day. Sean Spicer, your newly hired spokesperson is moments away from going before the reporters to announce your biggest success yet! Third Quarter revenues of 5.6 billion dollars. Best of all, 3.7 billion straight into investor's pockets! It's a record for you. A record for IBM. You're proud. You're pleased. Life is good.

    On the screen in front of you, Sean approaches the podium. Nothing stands between you and the success you've craved for years. Nothing can possibly go wrong. Won't be long now before your phone rings. U.S. Chamber of Commence wanting you to give a speech, maybe ask for your views on Biden's new trade treaty, and what businesses should be pushing for. It's a start.

    Suddenly, from the audience, "Hey it's Sean! Hey Sean, remember the fun we had when you swore Trump's inauguration crowd was the biggest in history? What you got for us today?"​

    Yeah, right. Like it's not even going to cross anyone's mind at IBM (or anywhere else) that hiring Sean Spicer creates an unnecessary credibility problem, along with an unnecessary controversy, for the IBM brand. Maybe the real question here is why Randall even bothered to 'make it official' that Trump's former press secretaries are radioactive.

    Look for Spicer to become a talking head on Newsmax. But don't look for him in the corporate world. That's what I'm guessing.
     
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  4. Father Heathen

    Father Heathen Veteran Member

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    There's cancel culture, and then there is reputation and credibility. It's perfectly reasonable to be apprehensive toward anyone associated with Trump since respect and trust are earned by being honest and objective.
     
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  5. Heyo

    Heyo Well-Known Member

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    (1) Forbes has some clout but corporations have their own hiring policies, they may take Randall's message into account after going through their own priorities.
    (2) I think there was some internal discussion and, more important, some study how following through might influence ad revenue. After considering all options Forbes decided it wasn't worth the risk.
    (3) Yep, but
    (4) Only if it's good for their bottom line.
     
  6. sun rise

    sun rise "This is the Hour of God"
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    To me a "civil war" in the right between those who want plutocracy but also value doing it honestly and the lying authoritarians.

    Forbes editorial puts the writer on my side against the autocrats for now. Later? Well, the USSR and the USA took care of the Axis and after that went at each other.
     
  7. fantome profane

    fantome profane Keep safe, and keep your neighbours safe.
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    Part of me hates to say this but anything any company spokesperson says about that company ought to be scrutinized, double (and triple) checked, and investigated as much as possible. Sorry if that seems like I am implying some kind of equivalence, because I am not. These guys went above and beyond when it comes to deception (anyone remember Baghdad Bob?). But if Forbes is able to scrutinize these guys, they can and should scrutinized all such people.

    And I hope the media learns the correct lesson from the last four years and holds the incoming press secretary to account.
     
  8. PureX

    PureX Veteran Member

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    Greed being the one and only motive for corporate decision-making in the U. S., and dishonesty being the main means of ensuring the success of that greed, I predict corporate America will view these professional liars as super heroes, and pay them big bucks to come lie for them.
     
    #8 PureX, Jan 19, 2021
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2021
  9. ecco

    ecco Veteran Member

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    People like Spicer and McEnany will easily find work on the many right-wing media companies that will continue to spout Trump's lies for many years to come.

    Politicians like Cruz and Graham will continue to get reelected by the people who will continue to support Trump for many years to come.
     
  10. fantome profane

    fantome profane Keep safe, and keep your neighbours safe.
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    Just a quick update for those who are interested. Sarah Huckabee will be Governor of Arkansas, Kayleigh Mcanany will get her own show on Fox News, and of course Sean Spicer will be a back up dancer for Lady Gaga
     
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