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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Learn From Sean Spicer’s Mistakes

It is likely that Sean Spicer’s off-color comment concerning concentration camps was a calculated dog whistle to the racist camp that believes that the Jews exaggerated the depravity of the Holocaust.

I’ve become convinced over the past year after watching Donald Trump’s campaign and, now, his presidency, that he has been deliberately feeding his critics buzzwords to focus their outrage on irrelevant topics.

I think Spicer, Kellyanne Conway, and Trump’s other mouthpieces have all played a part in this strategy. It’s really simple: Trump puts people in his place, to stand in as his public face who will say ridiculous things, allude to frowned-upon beliefs, and generally look stupid. All so that the media focuses on those things instead of important policy issues.

Where was the outrage about the appointment of a man to head the EPA who believes that the department should be abolished? Drowned out by the outrage around a new dog whistle allusion to racism.

What about the outrage about “Trumpcare,” or the overall bogus nature of the jobs Trump has “brought back?” Drowned out by some other offensive remark Trump or his staffers made.

Fast forward to the present time. Trump has ordered military action in Syria without Congressional approval, an action he had rabidly criticized when President Barack Obama wanted to do the same. Coincidentally, at the same time, Spicer drops a mild nod to Holocaust denial, and the outrage machine gets kicked into high gear as the administration is criticized for being racist, sexist, anti-Semitic, and (fill in the blank), instead of talking about the actual things Trump is doing.

Paradoxically, if you are criticized for everything, most people will think you deserve criticism for nothing. I think incompetence is the most likely explanation. Spicer is remarkably poor at speaking on his feet. But, if the choice of words was intentional, it might be a nod to a strain of conservatism that considers “death camps” to be a hoax invented to justify creating the state of Israel.

I have no sympathy for the man, but once the Holocaust was brought up, you could tell by the look on his face and the way he stumbled on his words that it had just dawned on him how profoundly stupid his comments had been. “Holocaust centers” was probably just a product of his nervousness as he frantically searched for a way to save face.

Still, he doesn’t deserve any sympathy on that score.

There are certainly anti-Semites in Trump’s movement, but it’s probably not fair to put Spicer in that particular “basket of deplorables.” I think it’s more likely that he was trying to make a “this guy’s worse than Hitler,” argument about Assad, and it blew up in his face. It’s historically ignorant and insensitive toward Hitler’s victims, as well as embarrassing to witness and insulting to anyone with even half a brain.

Communications majors at the University of Massachusetts Boston, if you’re thinking about a career in public relations, especially in the public sector (i.e. Feds, State, City), then keep watching Spicer in his role as White House Press Secretary.
If you do the exact opposite of what he does, you will go very far in life, and you won’t look stupid while doing it.