Billy Bush and Donald Trump Went For A Bus Ride – Fourteen Months Later…

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Source: Access Hollywood, The Washington Post

When I first heard about the rather vile tape of Donald Trump engaged in “locker room talk” with former Access Hollywood and suspended Today Show host Billy Bush, my thought was that Bush had experienced what I and many other people I know have experienced in their career: We were stuck in an awkward space with someone who has a lot of power over us and our careers. And we sat there and maybe nodded and laughed along while that person talked or behaved in a thoroughly unacceptable manner.

Billy Bush confirmed that in the past week when he wrote a op-ed for the New York Times that challenged the president’s rather odd assertion that it was not his voice on the tape.

The initial blow out from this tape, as you know, is that Billy Bush lost his job and a big piece of his reputation. Donald Trump went on to become our president and the commander-in-chief of our armed forces.

Let’s leave aside all of the politics for the moment.

And let’s stipulate that men should not sexually harass women and that there are no excuses whatsoever for sexual harassment of any sort. Yes, that’s obvious but I’ve noticed that some of my male counterparts are slow on the uptake and need a lot of educating.

Men harass women because they can. We men have privilege in our society.  It is unfortunately not all that uncommon for the fortunate and powerful to take advantage of the less fortunate and less powerful.

Beyond sexual harassment there is the harassment that I described in the opening paragraph of this piece: The taking advantage of another person because you hold power over them. That’s what I wish to address. That is something that I can speak to. It’s what has made me spend some time thinking about what is happening right now with the #MeToo movement and why I think it is a good thing.

Maybe you’ve been in this situation? You’re sitting across the desk from an important  buyer or potential client. You know this person well enough. Things seem to be going swimmingly. Then out of the blue the person tells a horrible joke, makes a sexist or racist comment. What do you do? You need to close this deal, right? What are you going to do?

Perhaps you’re at a trade show with a client. This client represents 25% of your business.    The representatives of a black owned business walk into the show hall. You’re client stares in their direction. And then proceeds to let out a stream of racist invective that stuns you. It rocks you back on your heels.  You never knew this person thought that way and you’ve known them for a long time. What do you do? Can you afford to offend this person and lose 25% of your business in one week? What they just said is horrible! Do you keep silent?

Let’s say you’re new to your trade. You’re traveling far from your home base and out for drinks late one night with some other traveling colleagues and the manager of the company that you’re calling on. The night breaks up and all of the other colleagues decline to drive the over-indulged manager to his home. They laugh when you politely volunteer to drive him. “Watch out” one of your “friends” calls out as you help him into the rental car. Later, in front of his house, his hands wind up all over you and you have to brush him off and kick him out of the car.

The next day you don’t make a sale. Your appointments are canceled. For the next year your calls go unanswered.

Maybe you’re out to dinner with some business associates and the discussion turns to a young CSR at a company you all do business with. The conversation turns to her attractiveness, how much they’d like to have sex with her, and then, of course, to her apparent “bitchiness” because she has turned some them down. You chime in that you actually like her and get along well with her and why would you proposition her? That’s wrong, she has a long time boyfriend – so what is their problem? The table turns cold. You’re not included in the rest of the conversation or any of the meetings the next day.

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The scenarios I just played out for you are real enough. They are the stories of people who are more powerful than the other person they are engaging with. Or as the case was with the trade show, presuming that their financial leverage over their business partner meant that they would either agree with their opinions, or keep their mouth shut. In the final story we see a typical example of the pack mentality.

None of these happened in Hollywood, Washington, DC, or in the vaunted halls of high-end publishers or the Fortune 500. The people who precipitated these events were not high-flying wealthy men. They were every day kind of guys. People who live next door or down the street or work one floor over.

When Sarah Silverman asked the question, “Can you love someone who did bad things?”” I understand. How do you keep liking someone who you know has reprehensible views? Has tried to force their will on someone else? In today’s do-it-yourself gig economy of the 21st century, you may have to work for that person. Do you take their money? Do you keep silent?

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Can you love someone who did bad things? Can you work for them?

What if someone you work for gaslights, harasses, overworks, mistreats and ultimately fires a business associate? And you get promoted into their position? Do you take the job? Do you walk out in solidarity? How much do you owe on your mortgage? School loans? Does your kid need insurance?

There are no simple and easy answers to these questions. I dare myself to walk in others shoes. I dare you to walk in mine.

I started this post right after the “Access Hollywood” tape came out. I never finished it in part because of the “heat” of the presidential race but also because I just didn’t know what I wanted to say. I am not sure that I do even now. But I feel like talking about it.

I wish the world were a better place. I wish we could be kinder to each other. I wish people in positions of power and authority, especially people in “business” would spend more time mentoring, teaching, elevating and less time preening, shouting, demanding and failing to understand or acknowledge the humanity of those who cross their paths. I find it sad that they can’t even understand their own humanity.

Author and journalist Daniel Pink wrote:

Empathy is about standing in someone else’s shoes, feeling with his or her heart, seeing with his or her eyes. Not only is empathy hard to outsource and automate, but it makes the world a better place.”

He is right. We need more empathy – in the work place, and in our every day lives.

 

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Trump, The Cover

 

Editor’s Note: This seems appropriate….

 

Is it possible that there are more magazine covers this year with Donald J. Trump on the cover than say, Taylor Swift? Heck yes! Have I managed to count them all? Well, no. I had to stop after a while. It would have been a really interesting exercise trying to count them all*. However it is planning season and spending all that time on Google is something I politely call a “Non-Revenue Generating Activity.”

So, no. I don’t have proof that there are more Trump covers than Swift covers, but go look at a newsstand and tell me what you think.

Of course the newsweeklies, business mags and culture pubs are the ones having the most fun with the mercurial Republican candidate as a cover story. Below are a collection of some of the ones I’ve found over the course of the year.

Here’s a few from Time Magazine.

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I’m a fan of illustrated covers so my favorite is the one from August 22nd.

Newsweek Magazine, which no longer tries to follow in Time‘s shoes went with a more straightforward, head-on approach.

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The current iteration of Newsweek retains the white on red logo but adds a small “folder tab” on the bottom right for the issue date. It’s an interesting add-on and I think it works to both preserve the original brand ID and set the new version apart. Other than the white on red, there is nothing else about the “new” Newsweek that resembles it’s predecessor as far as I am concerned (It’s a much better magazine). For the record, Trump has been on many Newsweek covers over the years. Here’s one from 1990 when he was having some trouble with his real estate companies:

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So the hair style hasn’t changed much.

Meanwhile, The Economist yet again shows us that British humor and intellect always arrives with an arched eyebrow.

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Apparently so.

 

Meanwhile, The New Yorker, the sophisticated tongue in cheek publication from Trump’s hometown has had great fun mocking the developer turned presidential candidate in a series of off-beat covers.

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Across the island, New York Magazine, which avoids illustrated covers went with a more posed picture of Trump during it’s expose on how his campaign operates.

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That is some seriously huge manspread.

Years ago, John F. Kennedy, Jr. identified the intersection between politics and entertainment and launched George Magazine. In fact, you may remember that back in 2000 Trump flirted with the idea of running for president and this was covered in the February/March issue of the magazine.

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So apparently we have seen this before.

It is fitting, then, that this year The Hollywood Reporter got into the act in June with their own Trump cover.

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Will Hollywood support Trump?

To show how politics has become entertainment, the newsstand champ, People Magazine asked “Who is the Real Donald Trump?” in their April cover.

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It’s a little late to ask that question now.

 

In the end, what all these magazine covers have in common is their immediacy. They’re on topic and address something that is important to their audiences. They approach their main cover topic (Trump) with respect and understanding of their audience. The New Yorker, for example, always has a pointed, sarcastic spin on the city and their cover topic.

Back in June, I announced what I thought were the five most egregious covers to date for 2016. Coming in at number four was this cover.

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Sorry, Melania

To my mind, Melania Trump can certainly stand alone on the cover of a luxury magazine. Having Trump lurking in the background strikes me as a bit creepy.

So what Trump covers have I missed from this year? What do you like or dislike about them?

*For the record, I should probably pick up the phone and call the nice folks down at MagNet and ask them if they have the count. Chances are they probably do.