Politicians using kids to improve their image is nothing new, but the White House’s current technique is gross.
In an attempt to shine a positive light on Trump after weeks of controversy — the failed GOP health care bills, Anthony Scaramucci’s foul mouth, Russia, Russia, Russia — the White House communications team has been reading letters that stroke the president’s ego during press briefings. Sure, politicians have meet and greets with kids all the time, but using a kid’s letter to say, “hey, people like President Trump” is a gross waste of everyone’s time.
And before we get into the nitty-gritty of these letters, which have now been featured two times in as many weeks, let’s get this out of the way: Obama also leveraged letters from kids for political points. But those letters were meant to further a policy agenda — if you’re against that kind of strategy too, that’s understandable — while the letters cherrypicked by the Trump team just praise Trump.
“To remind us a little bit more often about some of the forgotten men, women, and children that we’re here to serve and the president is fighting for,” White House Spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders explained last week, “we’re going to start the White House briefing every once in a while with a letter or an email we may receive from some of those emails.”
Sanders then read a letter from a 9-year-old boy nicknamed Pickle. The letter itself was quite adorable, though many debated the authenticity of the letter.
“I don’t know why people don’t like you?” The little boy asked. “You seem really nice, can we be friends?”
Sanders then offered the president’s friendship to Pickle, and an open invite to visit the White House.
Sanders read another letter from a 10-year-old named Frank on Wednesday, who talked about his young landscaping business and offered to mow the White House lawn.
Trump wished the boy a happy birthday, and invited him to spend a morning with the White House groundskeeper, Sanders said.
The White House receiving and responding to letters from the kids of America is somewhat of a tradition, but those letters don’t need to be read at the press briefing.
‘You seem really nice, can we be friends?
While Sanders left this new letter-reading practice open to hear from all Americans, we haven’t heard from anyone but kids. And using children to distract from the most recent scandal or firing is low, even for Trump.
The White House maintains the kid’s anonymity in order to protect them. But in doing so it also cast’s doubt on the letter’s authenticity.
People questioned both Pickle and Frank’s letters, and given the language used in both, it’s hard to imagine a kid wrote the letter all by themselves. President Trump has made up people to boast his good image in the past, what’s stopping him from doing it now?
While the letters may be heartwarming at face, why should we care what a 10-year-old thinks of the president? They’re 10 — it’s safe to assume the majority of their opinions are just relayed from their parents.
Instead of reading letters from kids, the press secretary could try answering questions from the press, instead of avoiding them.
It’s propaganda. It’s a distraction. It’s not cute. It’s cheap.