Trump Surrogates Erode Trust In Political Process

Trump Surrogates Erode Trust In Political Process

Annie Cohen, Staff Writer

Television punditry in the age of the 24-hour news cycle has become an essential part of the political process. From CNN’s cartoonishly large panel to the tic-tac-toe board of talking heads that appear on MSNBC and Fox, campaign surrogates are ubiquitous. Ostensibly, these people either work closely with the campaign or with the candidate themselves and are deployed to the media typically to defend, clarify or spotlight a statement or policy. When these surrogates are intelligent and well-versed in what they are speaking on, they can effectively communicate their message to a broad audience. When they aren’t, they manage to distract from their candidate and erode the public’s trust in both the media, the politicians and the democratic process.

Not all surrogates are created equal. Some are meant to appeal to a given demographic — take Hillary Clinton surrogates Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, both of whom speak to the younger, progressive voters that the Clinton campaign wants to attract. Other Clinton surrogates range from her husband, who happens to be a former president himself, to her childhood friends, who often speak to her quality of character. In stark contrast, Donald Trump’s surrogates are a haphazard group of political and cultural eccentrics, most of whom have little to no knowledge of or experience in politics. Many of them have mastered the art of brilliant acting and willful ignorance — as their support for Trump does not waver despite the increasingly difficult positions in which he puts them. As their candidate is giving them little else to work with, perhaps it is out of sheer necessity that they blatantly lie and peddle conspiracy theories.

One such example of Trump’s inept defenders is Katrina Pierson, a Trump campaign spokeswoman. Pierson is notorious for her factual errors, contradictory statements and complete and utter refusal to acknowledge any semblance of logic, a pattern that has left veteran reporters like MSNBC’s Kate Snow speechless. Yet another painfully awkward attempt at championing Donald Trump came last month when Michael Cohen, an attorney who works for the Trump Organization, was faced with his candidate’s dwindling approval numbers. His brilliant response? Repeating the schoolyard taunt, “says who?” over and over again, until CNN’s Brianna Keilar finally responded with, “Polls … all of them.”

This election cycle is crazy enough without the incessant absurdity of surrogates who have no idea what they’re talking about. A fundamental commitment to honesty has been tossed away in favor of bombastic, eyebrow-raising statements. And it doesn’t just come from fringe characters — at a recent Trump rally, former NYC mayor Rudy Guiliani opined about the eight years before President Obama when, “We didn’t have any successful radical islamic terrorist attacks in the United States.” In his hurry to attack Obama, it’s likely that Guiliani just glossed over Sept. 11, the most infamous terrorist attack in recent American history that occurred under president George W. Bush. Or, more likely, his cognitive ability to process actual facts is the same as that of the presidential candidate he’s supporting — virtually nonexistent.

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Email Annie Cohen at [email protected].