Everyone is a Press Secretary 

Looking at the drama guided by reams of misinformation unfold in the US over the past couple of months has been a combination of hilarity and notoriety. Of the two, which should cause more concern has now just become a matter of insignificance. The hilarity because between Trump and his administration there seems to be this stubbornness to outdo the previous press conference’s stupidity. Misplaced facts and statements, wrong enemies quoted, aircraft carriers sailing in the wrong direction, a piece of cake being tastier than a nuclear situation and also the small matter of discussing his election victory while the rest of the world is talking about Macron and Le Pen. Notoriety, because no democratic government should be led by a man hell bent on making the headlines instead of making sound policy. This is the government Twitter imagined. In every way from the false threats to picking the wrong battles and statements of intent that included a monster bomb with no follow up and the unsuccessful attempt at repealing a healthcare act that even his fellow Republicans couldn’t get themselves to veto after spending years tearing it apart, shows a sense of despondency and delinquency that are bordering on the ‘hellishly scary’. 
But let’s get to the part that truly defines a government, everywhere in the world. It really is in the statements they make, the positions they take and how effectively they communicate them. In recent times, shows on the running of an American government have taken on so many genres from comedy to drama to thrillers to House of Cards (yes that’s a genre now) that we have become rather well versed in how the American political machines work, possibly better than our own. As a keen observer and binge watcher (guilty!) of these shows, I must confess that besides the strong protagonists, the ones who seem to have caught my attention in a couple of the shows is the White House Press Secretary. This role is currently being played by Sean Spicer in the real version of ‘Trump’s White House’. That’s the show that plays out in reality but has more fiction shitting all over you than any other show dare can. Two shows that strike me immediately for stellar Press Secretaries are ‘Veep’ and ‘Designated Survivor’. In ‘Veep’, Mike McLintock’s ever bungling and misfiring character is that comical mess that is generally found on the supporting cast of a comedy film. That character that can do no right but is just so embarrassingly clumsy in his execution and gets away with it just because his stupidity is strangely adorable. As a part of a bungling President and her entourage, Mike plays out what the audience expects of pretty much every member of her staff. The President slips from one controversy into another and Mike is expected to keep the Press at bay but invariably ensures she falls face first into a much larger controversy with his moronic Press statements. Sounds familiar?
Then there is Seth Wright from ‘Designated Survivor’. In what is an idealistic show of a man on whom the presidency is forced upon after tragedy leads to the death of the entire government, Seth plays out the role of the righteous Press Secretary, with a boss who is holier than thou and his Papa. While President Kirkman is the epitome of all things right, Seth isn’t blinded by his boss’ principles and has the streets about him, but will only allow the good to come through. He’s sharp with the press, quick with the repartees and always has his President’s back. He is in many ways what you expect ideally of this role, of this person and possibly of the institution. But through the eyes of these two fictional men, you begin to ponder the true purpose of what modern governments are really in the business of.
Governance, policy making, defending rights and the people, some more jazz and all the rest. Yes that is what governments are elected to do. For every Erdogan amending the constitution to remain in power there is a Trudeau balancing the race scales in his cabinet. For every dis-unification loving Theresa May, there is Macron fighting hard to keep Europe together and liberal. There is even a Modi, blindly trusting in his economic push for every Xi polluting and denying the world a better future for the sake of his people’s present. There are possibly no rights, surely many wrongs and a disgusting amount of misinformation out there. And that is where, these men, the men who bring us our leaders points of view become the key to a free society. In no time in our history as citizens, voters and people of our nations have we ever had access to this much information about our elected governments. Our elder siblings, our parents and generations before that grew up in a time when the news was reported on a few news channels and reported fact and very little opinion. Today with social media breaking the news and your colleague having an opinion and closing the debate before the evening news, you are wrestling with facts and decidedly altering the course of decision making, every minute of the day. 
Every government will always truly be judged by its people with the mentions of the government’s success that get to them. These mentions will then be broken down into fact and fiction with the lines constantly blurring between the two and then finally processed and digested in 140 character stories, long form opinion pieces devoured over days, TV news debates, GIF and animation heavy videos for the dummies, comedians tearing apart these mentions with humour and converting it into this digestible piece of news and finally those long conversations at work which will invariably be a mashup of all of the above. Your news is your judgement today, your government is the sum of all the good and bad you consume of it, your leader isn’t what he does but how he positions himself and your progress isn’t what you experience but what your peers ask you to accept. Your news isn’t informing you, it isn’t even misinforming you, it is just currently, misdirecting you. Not from the bigger issues or the lesser known ones or the ones that truly matter. It’s just taking you on a ride with no destination in mind, no conclusions to be drawn and no hard facts to be presented in whole. You are right in between an elaborate Press conference where the questions are being fired, answers are being given, but no sense is truly being made. And guess what, you aren’t the reporter or viewer anymore, each of us are now either Mike or Seth or Sean.
The real question is, who do you want to be?

Everyone is a Press Secretary 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s