Mis-Communicator of the Week: Sean Spicer
25th January 2017
Would you ever lie if your boss asked you to? Would you put your hard fought for reputation on the line on day one of your new job to keep those above you happy?
If you're a skilled communicator then you shouldn't need the masterful rhetorical skills of Cicero to be able to avoid stepping over the line. There is always a way to satisfy and steer but not if you're reading from a pre prepared script.
On Friday, Donald Trump was sworn in as President of the United States. On Saturday, his press secretary - who is in many ways the face of an administration - stepped into the briefing room in the White House and lied. On Trump's first full day as president, his administration told a pre-planned and scripted, bare-faced, lie. There was no "mis-speaking", no inadvertent getting facts wrong - it was a lie.
What Sean Spicer lied about perhaps made it a bigger crime against transparency and open communications. The lie was about the size of the crowd who had attended the inauguration of Trump the day before.
“This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration — period — both in person and around the globe,” Spicer said. In actual fact, at least three others have been watched by more people.
That was bad enough but he then double downed and took a hectoring tone with the assembled White House correspondents, scolding them thus: “These attempts to lessen the enthusiasm of the inauguration are shameful and wrong.”
The reaction from former holders of Spicer's job was revealing with Ari Fleischer, George W Bush's first press secretary saying, “This is called a statement you’re told to make by the President. And you know the President is watching”.
I don't think Fleischer was trying to excuse Spicer but offer an insight into the process behind this kind of situation.
Spicer also seemed to acknowledge he'd begun his new job badly when he told reporters on Monday his "intention is never to lie to you."
It was too late to do this. The claims on the size of the crowd should never have been made. It was an awful start to the Trump presidency and will never be forgotten; staying with Sean Spicer for as long as he's in the job which is why he's the Mis-Communicator of the Week.
Mis-Communicator of the Week is written by Edward Staite.