Donald Trump’s campaign manager Kellyanne Conway grabbed my attention during the 2008 presidential race. After media questioned the Democratic contenders about an Obama-Clinton dream ticket, and the two candidates generously conceded the other would make a strong running mate, Conway appeared on CNN’s AC 360 to sneer, “Hillary Clinton says Barack Obama can ride in the back of her bus.” It was an extraordinarily cynical, racially inflammatory remark, projecting racism onto someone else who had displayed not an iota of it. I was so shocked by her racial Molotov cocktail that I wrote to CNN, where I once worked as a news producer, to suggest they ban Conway from their airwaves.
In this campaign, Conway’s cynicism on racial issues has blossomed, continually trying to convince minorities turn their backs on their champions in favor of a proven antagonist. The Trump campaign berates Clinton for failing to achieve economic and educational equality for minorities and even Jay Z’s lyrics, while ignoring Trump’s record of housing discrimination, demonizing the Central Park Five even after exoneration and leading the birther movement that claimed President Obama wasn’t born in the US. Now, under Conway’s tutelage, Trump talks about a rigged election and voter fraud, specifying minority areas, pandering to the far right and dog whistling to white supremacists.
On the final Sunday of the campaign, Conway wouldn’t correct a fake story about voting hours being illegal extended for “certain groups” in Clark County, Nevada. Confronted with the truth – officials followed standard procedure, allowing voters already on line by closing time to vote – Conway claimed she didn’t have “all the facts,” though that didn’t stop her from putting her false spin on the story. She also refused to repudiate the fantasy narrative of an “assassination attempt” on Trump in Reno, when the only person really in danger was the protestor who tried to display a “Republicans against Trump” sign.
With Conway and her ilk in ascendancy spouting cynical venom – and, compared with Donald Trump’s rants, seeming reasonable – there’s little danger of the country ever coming together. Which, of course, means more work for Conway.
As in 2008, I once again ask the media to just say no to Conway and deny her and her clients the oxygen of publicity. Someone with such blatant disregard for truth and for decency doesn’t deserve anyone else’s megaphone.
Totally globalized native New Yorker and former broadcast news producer Muhammad Cohen is a blogger for Forbes, editor at large for Inside Asian Gaming and author of Hong Kong On Air, a novel set in his adopted hometown during the 1997 handover about television news, love, betrayal, high finance, and cheap lingerie. See his bio, online archive and more at www.muhammadcohen.com; follow him on Facebook and Twitter @MuhammadCohen.