Truth, transparency, immediacy: what's missing from the US election campaign

After the weekend media frenzy surrounding Hillary Clinton’s health, election drama has been unseasonably quiet the past few days. That will change later today when Clinton returns to the trail, but in the relative quiet there has been time to reflect.

We live in an age that is defined more than ever before by immediacy and a need for truth and transparency.  While Donald Trump has uniquely embraced his (many) flaws as a candidate, Clinton’s recent string of communications blunders – driven by a disregard for both immediacy and transparency – has left her on the back foot at a critical point in the campaign.

Calling elements of Trump’s supporters “deplorables”, was, er… deplorable; an error in judgement from a communications point of view. Attacking the voters and not the candidate only serves to fuel more of the anti-establishment narrative of Trump’s campaign.

However, it was her handling of “pneumonia gate” that was most disappointing. A simple disclosure on Friday night would have put her team ahead of the story. Had they done this, when she was then taken ill at the ceremony on Sunday, she would have received plaudits from at least some corners of the media for her perseverance in attending while clearly battling illness.

Even without disclosure on Friday, it is inexcusable that for an hour and half on Sunday there were no communications from her team – not only drawing attention to the fact she’s not campaigning with a protective pool, but exacerbating the narrative she is deceitful and deliberately trying to outfox the public.

Clinton’s campaign has since come out saying “In those 90 minutes, we were putting a priority on making sure she was OK.” And what about the 36 hours between when she was diagnosed on Friday and the start of the 9/11 commemorations on Sunday morning?

Clinton has been running around the country in germ-breeding airplanes mixing with the great American public (and probably a few deplorables as well). It is completely understandable that she’s picked up pneumonia. But instead of fronting up to the fact she is not superhuman, she avoided the truth. She said she had allergies. And she very well might. But she also had pneumonia.

Why create cover stories when the truth and transparency will do? Where is the immediacy? The Clinton Way is clearly to release things slowly, choreograph everything, and only tell the full story when you’re forced to do so.

Do I think the events of the weekend will make any “undecideds” really consider Trump, perhaps the most untruthful person to ever campaign for President? No.

But do I think many voters like myself will wallow in the frustration that this is the best America has to offer? Yes.

Sara Jurkowsky

Hill & Knowlton Strategies Search