Donald Trump is reshaping Washington. But the interesting thing is that it is not just Washington that he is impacting, Wall Street is learning from him.
For as long as there’s been media, politicians have decried its treatment of them. US president Donald Trump has taken it to a new level by branding any story or outlet he disagrees with as “fake news.” As bad habits go, Trump’s routine recasting of facts as the lies of his enemies is particularly egregious.
And now it’s spreading. An increasing number of executives in business and elsewhere have seized on Trump’s strategy of discrediting the media to deflect attention from their own struggles. He is teaching companies to operate fact-free and that is dangerous for the business community.
- Michael Johnson, CEO of nutrition-supplement maker Herbalife, said the company’s financial struggles were “agitated by” public complaints from a short-seller, glossing over its $200 million settlement with the Federal Trade Commission for running a pyramid scheme.
- Officials at FIFA, soccer’s global governing body, denounce “FIFA-bashing” in the media, even as more of them get swept up in corruption charges.
- Eddie Lampert, CEO of Sears Holdings, this week lambasted the “irresponsible” media for “singling out” the 131-year-old retailer with negative coverage. Lampert says it’s “very unfair” that journalists keep using the word bankruptcy to describe the likelihood of Sears filing for, well, bankruptcy.
In business, as in life, there are often two sides to a story. Entire industries rest on the importance of analyzing companies’ successes and struggles. But commerce also rests on mutually agreed-upon facts. Sure, there’s nuance in how you ended up with them, or where you go next, but numbers—like hips—don’t lie.
If the business word moves in this terrain, Trump might have started the collapse of capitalism the way we know it.