President Donald Trump, despite his assurances that he is his own best spokesperson, is not, at least according to a recent poll. In fact, a majority of Americans believe that the president does more to hurt himself and his causes when he tries to speak on his own behalf.
According to a Monmouth University poll (per U.S. News & World Report), President Donald Trump “does more to hurt his own cause when he speaks on behalf of the administration,” as opposed to helping or aiding his causes and/or leaving observers with positive views of him or the presidency. In all, 61 percent of respondents said Trump was not his best spokesperson. Only 33 percent said he does more to help himself than he does to his detriment.
A spokesman for the university described President Trump as “his own worst mouthpiece” in a news statement.
The poll also revealed that 42 percent of those responding see the president’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, as doing more to hurt President Trump than help him. Another 28 percent says he does more good than harm.
Senior adviser to the White House Kellyanne Conway was seen by 40 percent of poll respondents as hurting the president when speaking for him and the administration. Only 28 percent said she helps more than she hurts.
“This is the epitome of a no-win situation,” says Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch, N.J. “It’s not as if Trump’s appointed spokespeople are doing worse than the man himself. It may simply be an impossible task to represent this president and come off as credible.”
The poll’s results stand in opposition to the administration’s current move toward President Trump’s stated desires to undertake more of a role in speaking for himself, the administration and its policies. In an attempt to shore up his dismal performance rating numbers, Trump, who senior staff reportedly says is certain that he is his own best spokesman, has decided to reduce the number of briefings by his staffers and advisers and personally hold more news conferences and give more speeches.
The Monmouth University poll indicates that President Trump has such a credibility problem with the public that taking charge and being seen more as his own spokesman would likely work against producing an increase in his approval ratings.
That credibility gap existed somewhat prior to his inauguration in January (with constant untrue statements — per Politifact — like claiming he would have won the popular vote, which he lost by three million votes, if not for all the the voter fraud going on) but seemed to explode when the new president insisted on multiple occasions that the attendance at his inauguration was larger than his predecessor Barack Obama’s, where photos taken by the National Parks Service cameras clearly showed that the 2017 attendance was less than half that of the 2009 inauguration. In fact, the claim was presented by Sean Spicer and Kellyanne Conway as well, thus hurting their own credibility as spokespersons for the president by repeating a position that was empirically proven to be untrue.
There continued to be a long series of questionable statements and claims by the administration, but the most damaging to President Trump’s credibility came with the firing of FBI Director James Comey. Where staffers and communications people pushed the idea that Comey was fired for various reasons unrelated to the known investigations into Trump personnel alleged meeting with and colluding with Russians in tampering with the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, President Trump seemed to torpedo their work by publicly stating that “this Russian thing” was taken into consideration when he fired the director.
But President Trump’s lack of credibility is given one strong voice — his vice president, Mike Pence. According to the poll, 53 percent of respondents believe that Pence actually helps the president when he makes public statements. Conversely, 29 percent thinks he hurts Trump.
Still, when all is said and done, Trump’s credibility is actually hurt by his over-reliance on “alternative facts,” a term Conway came up with to describe Sean Spicer’s (and, by extension, the president’s) “interpretation” of a given topic or policy. A steady series of truthfulness when publicly speaking and when he posts to Twitter, making comments that fact-checkers cannot readily poke holes in (and comedians and pundits cannot make light of and prove wanting in honesty or fact), is President Trump’s best option for increasing his credibility with the public.
[Featured Image by Mario Tama/Getty Images]