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The White House Flouts the First Rule of Crisis Communications: Get the Facts Out Fast

From The New York Times:

WASHINGTON — By the time the furor over a presidential aide accused of spousal abuse reached a second week, the White House account of what happened became less clear, not more. The contradictions were multiplying. The daily news briefing was filled with caveats.

“I can only give you the best information that I have.”

“I can’t say definitively, but I’m not aware of any communication.”

“I can’t say with 100 percent certainty, but not that I’m aware of.”

“This is the information that was given to me by those individuals.”

The rule of thumb for crisis communications in any White House is to get a complete and accurate account of events out quickly, if for no other reason than to keep a negative story from lasting longer than it otherwise might. But President Trump’s White House has thrown out the rule book in so many ways. The continuing questions about Rob Porter, the staff secretary who resigned after being accused of abusing two former wives, have provided a case study in how shifting stories can make matters worse.

“It’s very clear that in this situation, one of the reasons they’re struggling here is there’s not one complete set of information on what happened, why it happened and what to do to move forward,” said Doug Heye, a former congressional aide and communications director for the Republican National Committee. “This should have been a two- or three-day story.” Instead, “That this has gone on this long really speaks to the series of mistakes here.”

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