Donald Trump is a narcissistic boor with a seriously impaired capacity for empathy with other human beings.  Those personality characteristics explain his tactless choice of language in his condolence call to the widow of the slain serviceman, David Johnson.  And that really is all that there needs to be said about this matter.  Instead, the avalanche of media coverage of this story plays into Trump’s hands.  It lends plausibility to the narrative that the media are out to get Trump and will seize on every minor transgression in that nefarious effort.  There is plenty in in Trump’s behavior that is ugly, hateful and truly dangerous.  That is the message that the media needs to attend to; it dilutes that message to dwell on Trump’s every small offense against common decency.



Nancy LeTourneau of the Washington Monthly has done a fine job of exposing the faux outrage in White House Chief of Staff John Kelly’s fervent defense of his boss.   Unfortunately, not that many people read the Washington Monthly.  I’m guessing that the mainstream media will mostly not pick up on the falsehoods Kelly spouted–after all, it’s not easy to attack a gold star general engaged in an emotional catharsis (in the words of the NY Times).  Kelly has done a masterful job of exploiting the media’s excessive attention to this story.


  1. Lisa R. Lipman October 20, 2017 at 11:37 am

    I fully agree. We need to get the media to focus on the substantive issues, however we view them: the attack on voters, civil liberties, the First Amendment, women’s reproductive rights, climate change, world war 3, income inequality, etc., etc.

  2. Art Schmidt October 21, 2017 at 1:11 am

    Expressing sympathy at difficult moments is a skill. It can improve with practice. Trump lacks that skill. His conversation with La David Johnson’s widow was inept, not sociopathic. Let’s move on.

  3. Jeffrey Herrmann October 21, 2017 at 9:31 am

    It may be that a career Marine officer would be consoled by being told by his best friend “Your dead son knew what he was getting into,” but the vast majority of the bereaved would not find this consoling at all, especially if it came form a politician you didn’t even know. tRump can’t see that because he is a self-absorbed narcissist who is incapable of empathy.
    Kelly besmirched himself by engaging in a blatant attempt at character assassination of Rep. Wilson, falsely misstating what she had said at the dedication of a building to two fallen FBI agents. A video tape from 2015 shows Kelly lied about what she said in eulogising the FBI agents.
    Kelly may once have been an honorable man, but associating with tRumps sooner or later requires that you compromise your ethical standards.

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