Trump's practice of endorsing (or criticizing) American businesses by name (1 Viewer)

superchuck500

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Let's first establish that Donald Trump, the president-elect, is still a private citizen and nothing in this discussion applies to him in that status. The relevant issues/problems do not become real until he becomes president next Friday.

But will President Trump continue to publicly endorse (or criticize) specific American businesses and what are the implications of this behavior?

Today is a perfect example of the kind of public endorsement that is concerning:

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Thank you to Linda Bean of L.L.Bean for your great support and courage. People will support you even more now. Buy L.L.Bean. <a href="https://twitter.com/LBPerfectMaine">@LBPerfectMaine</a></p>— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) <a href="https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/819541997325316096">January 12, 2017</a></blockquote>
<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>


The problem with such an explicit endorsement advocating Americans purchase from a specific commercial vendor is two fold. First is the question of competition in the marketplace. The endorsement cannot be a paid advertisement, we all know and accept this - no company can go hire the president to endorse its products. But, more nuanced is when the president singles out a specific vendor like this (for what are ultimately political loyalty purposes) it impacts the market and LL Bean's competitors - other American businesses that ostensibly suffer by not getting the same public endorsement the president gave to LL Bean.

And if we tolerate the president endorsing (or criticizing) specific companies by name - and the obvious marketplace reaction that activity brings - what will the effect be on how these companies may try to earn the president's favor . . . or how they may choose to refrain from criticism of his policies when they would otherwise exercise their right to make those views known?

In any event, according government ethics experts, this kind of behavior from a sitting president would be completely unprecedented.

Katherine DeCelles, a Harvard business professor who focuses on ethics, said no White House leader in modern history has used their platform to hawk products.

“It’s unprecedented,” she said, “for someone of his power voicing his support or being against particular companies.”

Federal employees are legally forbidden from endorsing private firms. Though the president is exempt from the rule and the president-elect is not a federal employee, such endorsements are largely frowned upon in America’s highest office.

In 2009, after a coat company used a photo of President Obama in an ad campaign, Ben LaBolt, a spokesman for the Obama administration, told the New York Times that, “the White House has a long-standing policy disapproving of the use of the president’s name and likeness for commercial purposes.”

Amanda Schreyer, an advertising and social media lawyer in Boston, said Trump’s tweet broke no laws Thursday. He's entitled to free speech (but could face lawsuits if he distributes false information about a company and hurts its profit).

“It’s just poor form,” she added, “and for hundreds of years, it has been understood that the ruler of the land shouldn’t be picking and choosing which companies to endorse or otherwise.”

Since the election, Trump has made a practice of praising and chastising private companies. Last month, he slammed air conditioning company Carrier for moving jobs from Indiana to Mexico. He also has criticized several automakers for offshoring jobs and Boeing for the cost of its new Air Force One.
. . .
David Mayer, a leadership and ethics in business professor at the University of Michigan, said it’s natural for people to want to reward those who demonstrate loyalty. But reciprocity from the president-elect, he said, is problematic for the free market, creating incentive for executives to craft their messaging around pleasing the country’s leader.

“You gain advantages from the government for supporting it,” Mayor said. “And when that happens, you could also become afraid to criticize the government.”
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news...to-advertise-l-l-bean/?utm_term=.ceff50b2b5eb
 

efil4stnias

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It has to stop.

I dont know how, but it has to. . That is a great article as to the ramifications of said "endorsements" ( or critiques ).

I dont know how you get him to stop especially when there is no "law" to make him stop.
 

Mr. Sparkle

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Do you see this activity as functionally different from a POTUS giving a shoutout to particular companies during, say, a State of the Union Address?

http://money.cnn.com/2015/01/21/investing/obama-sotu-6-companies/

President Obama gave six companies a special thumbs up in his 2015 State of the Union address.
CVS, UPS, Instagram, Google, Tesla and eBay were all mentioned by name during the speech.

The president praised drugstore chain CVS (CVS) and delivery service UPS (UPS) for their programs to train and educate workers, especially those without college degrees. Obama is currently pushing a proposal to make two years of community college education free.
.....



But the biggest corporate buzz of the night went to Instagram. While highlighting America's innovation, the president pointed to Captain Scott Kelly, who was in the audience and is about to embark on a year-long mission in space.
"Good luck, Captain -- and make sure to Instagram it," Obama instructed Kelly.
 

lades

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This is just one very small reason why electing a person with no political experience to the highest political position in the world is insane... He doesn't know what the hell he is doing.
 

efil4stnias

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superchuck500

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Do you see this activity as functionally different from a POTUS giving a shoutout to particular companies during, say, a State of the Union Address?

Obama shows 6 companies the love in State of the Union - Jan. 21, 2015

It's a very good point - I'm certain that there have been examples over the years of that kind of reference by a president. But you have to consider whether it's a specific endorsement of the business itself of the president is making more of a cultural reference (or use of an eponym - the term for when there is popular reference to a generic item by using the business name of one of that item's maker . . . such as referring to tissue as Kleenex or making copies as "Xeroxing").

In Obama's reference, Instagram certainly appears to be cultural - that was the principal way in which people disseminated photos online . . . and I suspect that NASA actually had an Instagram account that it used for that purpose. I think it appears quite different than Trump's explicit marketplace endorsement (apparently to direct business to LL Bean because he approves of their political principles).

I suspect you're right that there are examples, time to time, over the years of presidents mentioning companies in that way - that do become tacit endorsements in a certain way. But I also strongly suspect that those mentions are exclusively of the kind in the Obama quote and not explicit market endorsement (or critique). So yes, I do think they are different (in content and character and not simply due to the identity of the speaker).
 

Three Monkeys

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Do you see this activity as functionally different from a POTUS giving a shoutout to particular companies during, say, a State of the Union Address?

Obama shows 6 companies the love in State of the Union - Jan. 21, 2015
Obama pointed out these companies are good citizens and contributors to these, OUR United States of America.

Trump thanked and endorsed a donor to HIS campaign.

BTW, from the article......

"None of the six companies the president mentioned are among the top 10 businesses lobbying Congress, although Google does rank among the top 20, according to the Center for Responsive Politics."

Yeah, I'd say there's a nuance in there somewhere.
 

Mr. Sparkle

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do you see Obama saying " Shop CVS" ?

You post a link to where Obama praises these companies for their training and education of workforce in a thread where Trump thanks LL Bean for their SUPPORT and ends with BUY LL Bean.

cmon now.
As with most things, Trump is saying in ALLCAPS!!1!! what most politicians say in a more subtle fashion.

It goes the other way too - Obama has certainly criticized individual companies by name over political differences (ACA implementation, etc)

Should that be allowed?
 
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superchuck500

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As with most things, Trump is saying in ALLCAPS!!1!! what most politicians say in a more subtle fashion.

It goes the other way too - Obama has certainly criticized individual companies by name over political differences (ACA implementation, etc)

Should that be allowed?

Let's look at an example.
 

billinms

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This is exactly one of the reasons his supporters like him, he says what wants. He won't stop and probably shouldn't.
 
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superchuck500

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Yep, that appears similar to the kinds of things Trump has said about Carrier or Boeing. I would agree with you that this is certainly an example how Trump's criticism of some companies is not unprecedented.

I do think that referencing "examples" of companies work in a particular policy area (like he did in mentioning CVS's training program in a State of the Union speech) are not the same kind of direct market endorsements that raise problems. I hope that Trump refrains from the kind of mention like he did with LL Bean today.
 

WhoDatPhan78

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I think we're going to run into a problem where there might be examples of things that past presidents have done on occasion that might be questionable, but Trump is going to be doing them constantly. His supporters will use the occasional examples to rationalize Trump's abuse of his power.

Not just that but he's going to combine the worst of all past presidents into one terrible entity.

So.. Reagan did it. So... Obama did it. So.. Bush did it. So ... Kennedy did it..
 

efil4stnias

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As with most things, Trump is saying in ALLCAPS!!1!! what most politicians say in a more subtle fashion.

It goes the other way too - Obama has certainly criticized individual companies by name over political differences (ACA implementation, etc)

Should that be allowed?
Hang on....more subtle fashion? so praising a corporation for its training and education of employees is a direct request to the American public to SHOP there? ( or use company x services?)

How do you make the leap from Obamas quotes to Trumps tweet in this thread?

Trump says BUY LLBean.
 

Mr. Sparkle

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Hang on....more subtle fashion? so praising a corporation for its training and education of employees is a direct request to the American public to SHOP there? ( or use company x services?)

How do you make the leap from Obamas quotes to Trumps tweet in this thread?

Trump says BUY LLBean.
Companies spend a lot of money on lobbyists to get their names inserted into a SOTU address. Why? It's good for business. It's not the same as Obama tweeting out SHOP AT CVS but its very much an endorsement of the brand. It's more subtle.

Same for Obama's multiple shout-outs to Solyndra and other companies getting federal $$.
 

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