Politicians and public figures have long been aware of the relentless power of rhetoric; choice words can mobilize support and at the same time can cast a shadow of public disapproval in a matter of seconds.
Given today’s hyper-immediacy provided by social media, rhetoric has grown from a familiar force into an international monster, and today’s world of journalism has proven that one misstatement or verbiage slip can be catastrophic in the realm of public relations.
Individuals who serve as public officials, civil servants, or hold professions tied to government and policymaking are among a population who ought to know and respect the overwhelming importance of rhetoric more so than anyone else.
And yet former speechwriter for the Bush Administration Joshua Treviño tweeted to his 5,716 followers the following with respect to nonviolent American activists headed to Gaza on a humanitarian mission:
“Dear IDF: If you end up shooting any Americans on the new Gaza flotilla – well, most Americans are cool with that. Including me.”
Among the 22 activists aboard, were Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker, former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, retired army colonel and former U.S. diplomat Ann Wright, and 86-year-old Holocaust survivor Heddy Epstein.
The same media that demonized Michelle Bachmann for a silly John Wayne mix-up has failed to mentioned Trevino’s comment at all, thus creating a knowledge barrier for the American people.
The question thus remains, why was this not newsworthy? Such careless and pro-violence remarks made by an individual who represents American leadership ought to be called into question.
If the media microscope ceases to narrow in on the misstatements of other civil servants, should it not also be analyzing Treviño’s encouragement of shooting nonviolent American civilians?
The U.S. mainstream media has a unique opportunity to facilitate diligence by instilling accountability for the sender of an unpatriotic, pro-violence message to nearly 6,000 individuals via social media.
Words are power, and Mr. Treviño would do a great service to his followers and fellow citizens to remember that.