| 03.18.2018

Alternative idols —Recent events in the federal government have me seeking alternative role models


I want, so much, to respect Kellyanne Conway and Sean Spicer. No one’s perfect, so I gave them the benefit of the doubt when they were given jobs in President Donald Trump’s White House staff.

It’s not like they aren’t qualified. Conway has a law degree from George Washington and began her career in polling. She gained notoriety for being a female conservative commentator on major television stations and has worked on multiple presidential and congressional campaigns.

In 2005, she co-wrote a book called, “What Women Really Want: How American Women Are Quietly Erasing Political, Racial, Class, and Religious Lines to Change the Way We Live.”

Oh yeah, and she won a World Championship for her speedy blueberry packing as a child.

After chairing a pro-Ted Cruz organization, Conway was hired as an adviser for the Trump campaign. A month later, she was promoted to campaign manager.

Now, she’s the highest ranking woman in the White House. Conway is the first female campaign manager to run a winning campaign. She clearly has valuable skills.

Spicer, a U.S. Navy Reserve Commander, is the White House Press Secretary and Communications Director. He’s worked with several congressmen and public relations firms.

As a woman who has worked in male-dominated fields, I have a lot of respect for Conway. She has grit and managed to create a name for herself based on her brains and work ethic. And as someone who wants to work in communications when I grow up, Spicer is another logical role model.

They should be role models. Conway and Spicer — and really everyone in the White House right now — should be the best of the best.

I don’t agree with everything their boss supports. I probably don’t agree with everything my boss thinks. That’s OK.

Regardless of political leanings, I look to people in high places as professional role models. Even if I disagree with them, I can still admire them for their work ethic, accomplishments and their time in the industry.

However, Spicer and Conway seem to be setting a dangerous precedent here with this “alternative facts” business.

Conway used the phrase “alternative facts” to describe the attendance numbers Spicer gave in a press conference Jan. 21 — which were false — during “Meet the Press” with Chuck Todd Jan. 22. Spicer claimed Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration had “the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period,” according to CNN.

Conway went on to say that, because Chuck Todd was calling Spicer’s numbers false, the Trump administration needed to put out alternative facts for people and correct journalists.

Part of this problem is where their orders come from. Spicer’s jaw-dropping presser Jan. 21 was the result of direct orders from Trump, who was enraged to see the media comparing attendance numbers from Barack Obama’s inauguration to his own.

I can see why Trump is upset. In the minds of many American people — the majority, if we look at the popular vote — probably think Obama did a decent job, and Trump likely understands on some level he’s got big shoes to fill. I get why he would want to lash out and set himself apart from Obama, and if he can attack the media at the same time, it’s a win-win.

He’s still campaigning against the media, and that’s disappointing. But his need constantly defend himself is putting Spicer and Conway in compromised positions.

Spicer’s press conference the day after the inauguration seemed a lot like Spicer was being told to do this, and he knew his boss was watching, and didn’t want to get fired.

I would wager Spicer and Conway don’t hold any significant positions after their work in the Trump administration. He is too divisive and I’m guessing, will have asked them to cross the line too many times for them to save their reputations and careers.

It’s too bad really. Conway and Spicer are incredibly qualified and should have long, successful careers. At the same time, they’ve made their choice and have made peace with the choice.

But I’m worried for the communications industry. Will the new standard be lies? Will it slowly become ethical to blatantly lie? Are journalists just going to become fact checkers?

I don’t know. I don’t have any answers. I probably won’t have any answers or enlightening thoughts until after Trump’s term is over in four — maybe eight — years.

One thing is certain. I’m not going to be looking to the White House for role models or enlightening work in the communications industry. I guess I’ll need some alternative role models.

Tess Fox can be reached at arg-opinion@uidaho.edu or on Twitter @tesstakesphotos

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