The Media’s Portrayal of an Unethical Presidency

The media often drives and shapes the public’s opinions of our leaders. It is difficult in today’s news to not hear stories about our Commander in Chief Donald Trump. It seems that every other day a new scandal, or struggle is being reported on. This week it seems that our leader may be investigated for obstruction of justice during his campaign efforts. No matter what side of the political spectrum it is unlikely that any American hears that and thinks to themselves and thinks that America’s reputation throughout the rest of the world goes un-smudged. It is unfortunate in a sense that so much media attention is brought to the inner workings of a Presidency, and that so much information is out there for the taking because the negative media and lack of ability to find reliable sources that are not biased or swayed is difficult recently.
The media portrays our Leader in a negative light. When looking at Costa and Mcrae’s five factors of personality the media’s depiction would rate him low on conscientiousness (Penn State, 2017). According to Northouse, conscientiousness is a person’s ability to be thoughtful, organized and dependable (2015). Just this morning the Washington Post’s latest Trump headline was “Trump lashes out at Russia probe; Pence hires a lawyer” ( Wagner, J., & Parker, A., 2017). Actions like lashing out and being involved in a situation that requires a lawyer are suggestions to the public that Trump is not thoughtful, nor dependable.
The same article goes on to state “A heightened sense of unease gripped the White House on Thursday, as President Trump lashed out at reports that he’s under scrutiny over whether he obstructed justice, aides repeatedly deflected questions about the probe and Vice President Pence acknowledged hiring a private lawyer to handle fallout from investigations into Russian election meddling (Wagner, J., & Parker, A., 2017). This piece of the article also presents information that can be markers for the big five factor traits. When using this article to determine whether media depicts Trump as an agreeable leader, it is clear he is being portrayed as more disagreeable. On People who are disagreeable may lack trust in other and could behave in unethical ways – including looking out for themselves despite the cost to other (Penn State, 2017). One could view this probe into unethical actions during the campaign as Trump and his affiliates having a lack of regard for the reputation of the United States and operating from a self-serving stand point. In terms of the trait of Neuroticism, the terms used in the headline about Trump “lashes out” point to the idea that Trump is impulsive. According to Bernstein et. Al, highly neurotic people are often tense, emotionally unstable and impulsive or touchy (2013).
It is difficult to determine from this article whether Trump is being portrayed as a leader that is open to experience. A leader that operates high on this spectrum may be unconventional and push boundaries or act in an unethical manner. Using the information that the collective media has provided one could argue that Trump is high on openness to experience as evidenced by his many business ventures, tv shows, and his eventual run for President. Most people would not have expected a man that owned Casinos in Atlantic City to one day be the President of United States.
Trump is clearly extroverted. He is probably too quick to comment as evidenced through his many twitter rants. The article goes on to describe his extroversion in a negative light. The article states “A defiant Trump at multiple points Thursday expressed his frustration with reports about that development”. Trump’s tweet was quoted as saying that this investigation is “the single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history” (Wagner, J., & Parker, A., 2017).
Personality traits can depict a leader in a positive or negative light. Unfortunately, we are all watching this unfold in the media and must try to decipher the facts from the views of those reporting on the issues. In the current climate, many citizens are probably very worried about Trump being unethical, and what that means for our country. I suppose we are all along for the ride and anxiously trying to figure out if our leader is ethical and able to move forward with leading our country without another scandal rising to the surface.

References:
Bernstein, D. A., Penner, L. A., Clarke-Stewart, A., & Roy, E. J. (2011). Psychology. Boston:
Houghton-Mifflin.
Northouse, P. G. (2015). Leadership ethics. In Leadership: Theory and practice. Washington, DC:
SAGE.
Penn State University (2017). L09 Personality. PSY 533: Ethics and Leadership. Retrieved from:
https://psu.instructure.com//courses/1848568
Wagner, J., & Parker, A. (2017, June 15). Trump lashes out at Russia probe; Pence hires a
lawyer. Retrieved June 16, 2017, from
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-lashes-out-at-russia-probe-pence-
hires-a-lawyer/2017/06/15/aee870ce-51da-11e7-be25-3a519335381c_story.html

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