By Steve Adubato, Ph.D.
I appeared on FOX News Tuesday morning to offer commentary on the presidential campaign as well as my new book, Lessons in Leadership, and frankly, the lack of leadership in this race. In the segment I also touch on the question of media bias. Here’s how I see it… has there been some media bias in this campaign? Yes. I would say that Hillary Clinton’s email controversy, the WikiLeaks fiasco, the
questions surrounding the Clinton Foundation, and other problems connected to Secretary Clinton have been under covered by the media. But there are many complex reasons for this.
As for Donald Trump, his missteps, mistakes and unforced errors have been covered at nauseam. Trump says this is unfair. He argues that the mainstream media is only doing it because they want Hillary Clinton to win and that they have it in for him. I don’t think it’s that simple. I do think most journalists are going to vote for Mrs. Clinton but, the fact is, Trump brings most of his negative media coverage on himself. Trump doesn’t know how to get past his own mistakes. Rather, he actually makes things worse in many cases.
As for Clinton, she often doesn’t even answer the questions at hand directly like when she ducked Chris Wallace’s question during the third presidential debate about the potential conflicts at the Clinton Foundation and her work as Secretary of State. She simply didn’t respond. Yes, that’s poor leadership for not taking responsibility or being remotely candid. But, Trump, he takes a different tact.
What kind of leader criticizes the physical appearance of the women who say he has made unwanted sexual advances toward them and makes the excuse they weren’t attractive enough for him to do so? By making these statements, Trump only got more negative media coverage – deservedly so. Consider when Trump said horrific things about the Khan family who spoke at the Democratic National Convention about losing their heroic son in the war in Iraq. Trump only made it worse by personally attacking the Khans days after. Was that really media bias? Or just Trump refusing to simply apologize? Of course, he got more negative media coverage when he did this.
Even when Trump had a decent debate performance last week, we were never able to find out how the mainstream media would have covered it because Trump made the outrageous and unprecedented statement (refuted by his own campaign manager as well as vice presidential nominee Mike Pence) that he wasn’t prepared to accept the results of the election if he lost. Of course that is going to get tremendously negative media coverage.
Further, Trump claiming the election is “rigged” has been debunked by virtually every expert who understands how elections work. But by saying it, the media – including those inclined not to like him – have little choice but to call him out for such outrageous and potentially dangerous comments.
Look, Hillary Clinton gets no points for being a strong leader. She’s not going to win any awards for “Profiles in Courage” and often, it’s not clear where she really stands on the issues, be it in public or private. That’s real reason for concern. Yet, Donald Trump, claiming the election is “rigged” offers an important Lesson in Leadership when it comes to the issue of media bias as well as what it means to be a sore loser before the game even ends. When Trump was winning, everything was great for him. He bragged a lot that he was number one, a big winner, and that everyone else was a loser. But now that he is behind in the polls, something MUST be wrong with the system. It’s got to be “rigged.” Of course!
WELL, REAL LEADERS DON’T WHINE. They don’t create excuses for losing. In fact, if our kids did that playing youth sports we’d reprimand them and teach them about the need to work harder and smarter. Further, if in fact you think the odds are against you – be it because of the referee or the “system” – the really great leaders bear down, decide they’re going to be better and work hard to overcome the challenges they face. They’re not going to compound their mistakes by complaining, doubling down and refusing to take responsibility. Donald Trump can’t do that because he’s not a great leader. The more you watch him under pressure the more you realize he’s a big baby who is arrogant and cocky when he’s winning but simply whines and complains when he’s not.
That doesn’t sound like any Lesson in Leadership we want to teach our children or what this country needs in a president.