Welcome to From Insults to Respect.
This week I was watching President Donald Trump’s first news conference since he became president. There, the remarks that I found most interesting had to do with his expressed outrage about how hateful the press has been toward him. The first time it came up, he was asked the following question by a reporter:
“I just want to get you to clarify this very important point. Can you say definitively that nobody on your campaign had any contacts with the Russians during the campaign? And on the leaks, is it fake news or are these real leaks?”
“Well, the leaks are real. You’re the one that wrote about them and reported them, I mean the leaks are real. You know what they said, you saw it and the leaks are absolutely real. The news is fake because so much of the news is fake. So one thing that I felt it was very important to do — and I hope we can correct it. Because there’s nobody I have more respect for — well, maybe a little bit but the reporters, good reporters.“It’s very important to me and especially in this position. It’s very important. I don’t mind bad stories. I can handle a bad story better than anybody as long as it’s true and, you know, over a course of time, I’ll make mistakes and you’ll write badly and I’m OK with that. But I’m not OK when it is fake. I mean, I watch CNN, it’s so much anger and hatred and just the hatred.”
“And if I may follow up on that, just something that Jonathan Karl was asking you about. You said that the leaks are real, but the news is fake. I guess I don’t understand. It seems that there’s a disconnect there. If the information coming from those leaks is real, then how can the stories be fake?”
“The reporting is fake. Look, look… You know what it is? Here’s the thing. The public isn’t — you know, they read newspapers, they see television, they watch. They don’t know if it’s true or false because they’re not involved. I’m involved. I’ve been involved with this stuff all my life. But I’m involved. So I know when you’re telling the truth or when you’re not. I just see many, many untruthful things.
“And I’ll tell you what else I see. I see tone. You know the word “tone.” The tone is such hatred. I’m really not a bad person, by the way. No, but the tone is such — I do get good ratings, you have to admit that — the tone is such hatred.“I watched this morning a couple of the networks. And I have to say, Fox & Friends in the morning, they’re very honorable people. They’re very — not because they’re good, because they hit me also when I do something wrong. But they have the most honest morning show. That’s all I can say. It’s the most honest.“But the tone, Jim. If you look — the hatred. The, I mean, sometimes — sometimes somebody gets… Well, you look at your show that goes on at 10 o’clock in the evening. You just take a look at that show. That is a constant hit. The panel is almost always exclusive anti-Trump. The good news is he doesn’t have good ratings. But the panel is almost exclusive anti-Trump. And the hatred and venom coming from his mouth; the hatred coming from other people on your network.”
If any of you saw the last debate between him and Secretary Clinton, you will no doubt recall how he called her evil in a tone that mustered as much venom as anyone that I’ve personally seen. Since becoming president, at moments he has backed off some of his most hateful rhetoric, but more often he has regularly returned to it.
“We’ve been negotiating a lot of different transactions to save money on contracts that were terrible, including airplane contracts that were out of control and late and terrible; just absolutely catastrophic in terms of what was happening.”
In 1960, both Senator Kennedy and Senator Lyndon Johnson were seeking the Democratic presidential nomination. At the convention, with both side by side, Johnson criticized Kennedy for missing some important senate meetings because he was on the road campaigning. Kennedy replied,
“I, uh, found it extremely beneficial serving in the Senate with Senator Johnson as leader. I think if I emerge as successful in this convention it would be as a result of watching Senator Johnson proceed around the Senate for the last eight years.”
Kennedy, then turns to look directly at Johnson and said:
“I have learned the lesson well, Lyndon, and I hope it will benefit me in the next twenty-four hours.”
Kennedy then turns back to the larger audience.
“It is true that Senator Johnson made a wonderful record in answering those quorum calls, and I want to commend him for it. I, uh, was not present on all of those occasions…. So, I come to you today full of admiration for Senator Johnson, full of affection for him, strongly in support of him for majority leader, and in that position we’re all going to work together. Thank you.”
This is an amazing contrast to President Trump’s style of dealing with anyone who criticizes him.
An additional lesson that we can learn from looking at Kennedy’s style was his willingness to take responsibility for things that did not go as well as he desired during his administration.
On April 17th, 1961, Kennedy ordered what became known as the “Bay of Pigs Invasion”: 1,500 U.S.-trained Cubans landed on the island in an attempt to overthrow the country’s dictator, Fidel Castro. The plan failed within three days.
Many felt Kennedy was guilty of doing something terribly wrong, and more than a few insults were hurled at him. However, when he went before the press, he took responsibility for the failure, and pledged to take several specific steps to make sure that what happened would never happen again. Immediately afterwards his approval rating spiked, going up to 83 percent, the highest level of his presidency.
From my own experience, I have learned that using a similar type of response can be very helpful. When I find that someone has a conflict with me because of something that I have done, I have often been able to turn angry feelings into a respectful resolution by making it clear that I recognize my responsibility in what happened and I plan to take some action to improve.
“Let me tell you about the travel ban. We had a very smooth rollout of the travel ban. But we had a bad court. Got a bad decision. We had a court that’s been overturned. Again, may be wrong. But I think it’s 80 percent of the time, a lot.“We had a bad decision. We’re going to keep going with that decision. We’re going to put in a new executive order next week some time. But we had a bad decision.“That’s the other thing that was wrong with the travel ban. You had Delta with a massive problem with their computer system at the airports. You had some people that were put out there, brought by very nice busses, and they were put out at various locations.“Despite that the only problem that we had is we had a bad court. We had a court that gave us what I consider to be, with great respect, a very bad decision. Very bad for the safety and security of our country. The rollout was perfect.”
“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.”
Some people will enjoy reading this blog by beginning with the first post and then moving forward to the next more recent one; then to the next one; and so on. This permits readers to catch up on some ideas that were presented earlier and to move through all of the ideas in a systematic fashion to develop their emotional intelligence. To begin at the very first post you can click HERE.