Politics, Moderate



Firing Lines

Bob Franken on

I've always wanted host a telecast and start it off with, "A hearty welcome to our dozens of viewers around the world." Alas, there would always be some humorless executives (I know, a redundancy) who would refuse to allow it. Perhaps they wouldn't want to call attention to the fact that many of my programs could, in fact, count the audience in the dozens.

In those cases, it wouldn't be long before they either replaced me on the show or just canceled it. They wouldn't announce that I had been a total loser. No, they'd mercifully cushion the truth, stating that I had been "reassigned." Never mind that I would work out my contract on the overnight shift, reporting on sports, with an emphasis on curling. My main competition on the other channels would be infomercials. Those details wouldn't be spelled out.

My dozens of readers might remember how I'm fascinated by the way we go to such lengths to camouflage failure. The memo declaring that someone has been fired never say it that way. Usually that terminated someone "resigned," and the suddenly former employer always, always will "wish him well," which really means "may the scumbag burn in hell."

Of course, that isn't the only expression designed to soften the hard feelings of a breakup. Sacker and sackee alike put out announcements. Invariably, the one who has been excised cites a need to "spend more time with his family." Never mind that the family might want him to spend less time, but what that excuse often means is that tensions with the boss had reached the point of no return. Let's take Bill Shine as an example. Shine is the former Fox News muckety-muck who had been consumed by charges he had enabled all the sleazy Roger Ailes shenanigans. He was a natural fit for this White House and soon joined up, assigned to be in charge of Donald Trump's communications. As he should have known by the long list of those who have tried and failed, Trump runs his own communications operation. It took about nine months for Bill Shine to be squeezed out, and along came the usual mealy-mouthed explanation from Shine about why he was departing.

"I'm looking forward to working on President Trump's re-election campaign and spending more time with my family." Ah, yes, the family, along with Shine joining the Trump re-election campaign, also known as the Trumpster Refuse Collector. The truth is that the president and Bill Shine had a falling out. Trump continued to grouse about his news coverage and blame Shine, while Shine complained that Trump really didn't listen to him.

Oh yeah, the president put out his own ritual gratitude-for-his-service statement: "Bill Shine has done an outstanding job working for me and the administration," "Thank you to Bill and his wonderful family!"

There it is again, the "wonderful family" platitude. By the way, the news of Shine's demise came as the president and wife Melania were about to tour the wreckage in Alabama, where 23 lost their lives in a massive storm. On that same trip, the president stopped at a Baptist church and ended up autographing a couple of Bibles. Was this considered a book tour?

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As for Bill Shine, he now answers to a new boss, Brad Parscale, the head of the re-election campaign, who of course continued the charade with his own statement:

"Bill Shine is an incredible professional and will bring insight and talent as we build a world-class campaign"

Will Trump choose still another communications director? Is anybody else willing to take such a perilous job? He or she would be smart to create in advance the platitudes explaining how he or she will be axed.

(c) 2019 Bob Franken

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.



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