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2017's Brangelina Break-Up: Donald Trump and The Media

Politics

Donald Trump has been a money maker, story breaker and career-defining media sensation ever since he became the Republican candidate for the 2016 election back in July of last year.


He has provided a litany and seemingly inexorable torrent of stories, material and retweets for the media that have been invigorated at a time when the very notion of media was becoming a blur. With subscriptions waning, print presses shutting down, and a very dismal outlook for journalists and writers alike because of blogging sensations, pre-President Trump, has Donald saved the media as we know it today?

Courtesy of Raw Story

If he has, he probably won't ever recognize his contribution publicly, as currently the two are going through a very public and nasty break-up, leaving nobody unscathed.

The five stages of grief for a break up of this magnitude would usually read 1. Denial; 2. Anger; 3. Bargaining; 4. Depression; 5. Acceptance. Only, this is not your typical break-up. And perhaps neither party is suffering a loss to grieve from - they are however suffering a collapse in a relationship that will have ramifications throughout the world and will cement Trump's presidency (if it isn't already) into presidential history as one of the most torrid since the conception of The United States of America.

It's no secret that this relationship has been tested before - it is one that is constantly fraught with difficulties, deceits and betrayals. It had its ups and downs, breaks, and has needed outside counseling - but somehow, through thick and thin, the media and the White House have always emerged on the other side - a unified whole, a well-oiled working machine. The relationship is one that, like many, depends on honesty, communication and a deft belief in one another to provide substance, care and sometimes even some love, for the other half. The two have been known, like a regular couple, to celebrate each others achievements, and chastise (even berate) each others downfalls. Perhaps the media is the more critical of bodies in this particular love affair - but hey, there's always one.

It was Nixon's presidency when last the relationship was as tenuous as it is now, ironically, being that he was the president that gave the media their very own room in the White House - the briefing room, a move that in a regular relationship would term "moving in." It was Roosevelt who first initiated an office for White house reporters, but it was the man with whom (before Trump) had the most difficult and sensational relationship with the media that allowed them into his house and gave them let's say, some wardrobe space - room for a toothbrush, even though they were always fighting and he too called them liars, at the end of the day - he made the first move.

Nixon assumed a similar language to that of Trump's in the past week, calling on media outlets to reveal sources - disavowing 'leakers' and really tearing into the core values of his other half in this equation. He of course was eventually brought down by the infamous duo Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein and their confidential informant 'deep throat' and some would propose this is why the current president is calling for sources to be revealed - because he's arrived there's a scandal afoot of watergate proportions. In order to hide or deflect from this worry, he has used abusive language, publicly defamed the media and chastized individuals for their Washington reporting.

I wouldn't go so far as to say the media has been hurt, by their companion's words - they have a thick skin. It's the president who has been the more vulnerable and easily moved by taunting matches - you might go so far as to say that in this relationship, he resembles the stereotypical 'hysterical woman.'

His reactions are volatile, presumptuous and completely out of control. This week, members of the media were left out of a gaggle(a short, off camera press briefing) in an unimpressive and belligerent show of force from the White House, in what appears to many and myself to be the president resigning himself to the fourth stage of grief:

Depression

Keeping some members of the press out of the gaggle - kicking a news agency or two out of a White House briefing has absolutely no effect. It's a sad and frankly disturbing tactic and I would go so far as to say it's an indication that Mr. Trump is deep into the depression stage, now remaining a recluse from parties. He has decided to opt out of the Correspondents' dinner - an event at which the pair usually shine; dance together; make fun of each other publicly, and well, parade themselves as a happy couple even just for one evening. Trump's refusal to go could be read as a sign of anxiety, a symptom of depression - knowing that on the night in question he would be the butt of perhaps one too many jokes.

It's difficult to pinpoint at what stage of grief the media are at in this particular break-up. They are indeed a much larger and more multi-faceted body than the president; their personality and intellect on an entirely different scale; their ability to digest a loss or grievance, significantly superior to that of their White House companion. I would say, they reached acceptance at Fake News and are currently past the stages of grief and into the rebound phase, or, point of attack. While there may be no reasoning with the gruff secretary Spicer or talking Ms. Conway down, there is someone that can be reasoned with, that will listen. The lovechild of this pugnacious pair...

For me, it's the most important factor in this break up - as in many. The child. Who gets the child?

The child here of course, is America. It is temperamental, wild, oftentimes outrageous, and in need of a stable, competent parent at. all. times. Over the next weeks and months the break-up will no doubt continue to tear the two parties asunder until under duress there will perhaps come a tipping point, similar to that in 1974. History determines that it is the media - the free, outspoken and imperturbable press that come out winning in this particular scenario.

7min read
Culture

The Middle East And North Africa Are Brimming With Untapped Female Potential

Women of the Middle East have made significant strides in the past decade in a number of sectors, but huge gaps remain within the labor market, especially in leadership roles.


A huge number of institutions have researched and quantified trends of and obstacles to the full utilization of females in the marketplace. Gabriela Ramos, is the Chief-of-Staff to The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), an alliance of thirty-six governments seeking to improve economic growth and world trade. The OECD reports that increasing participation in the women's labor force could easily result in a $12 trillion jump in the global GDP by the year 2025.

To realize the possibilities, attention needs to be directed toward the most significantly underutilized resource: the women of MENA—the Middle East and North African countries. Educating the men of MENA on the importance of women working and holding leadership roles will improve the economies of those nations and lead to both national and global rewards, such as dissolving cultural stereotypes.

The OECD reports that increasing participation in the women's labor force could easily result in a $12 trillion jump in the global GDP by the year 2025.

In order to put this issue in perspective, the MENA region has the second highest unemployment rate in the world. According to the World Bank, more women than men go to universities, but for many in this region the journey ends with a degree. After graduating, women tend to stay at home due to social and cultural pressures. In 2017, the OECD estimated that unemployment among women is costing some $575 billion annually.

Forbes and Arabian Business have each published lists of the 100 most powerful Arab businesswomen, yet most female entrepreneurs in the Middle East run family businesses. When it comes to managerial positions, the MENA region ranks last with only 13 percent women among the total number of CEOs according to the Swiss-based International Labor Organization (ILO.org publication "Women Business Management – Gaining Momentum in the Middle East and Africa.")

The lopsided tendency that keeps women in family business—remaining tethered to the home even if they are prepared and capable of moving "into the world"—is noted in a report prepared by OECD. The survey provides factual support for the intuitive concern of cultural and political imbalance impeding the progression of women into the workplace who are otherwise fully capable. The nations of Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, Jordan and Egypt all prohibit gender discrimination and legislate equal pay for men and women, but the progressive-sounding checklist of their rights fails to impact on "hiring, wages or women's labor force participation." In fact, the report continues, "Women in the six countries receive inferior wages for equal work… and in the private sector women rarely hold management positions or sit on the boards of companies."

This is more than a feminist mantra; MENA's males must learn that they, too, will benefit from accelerating the entry of women into the workforce on all levels. Some projections of value lost because women are unable to work; or conversely the amount of potential revenue are significant.

Elissa Freiha, founder of Womena, the leading empowerment platform in the Middle East, emphasizes the financial benefit of having women in high positions when communicating with men's groups. From a business perspective it has been proven through the market Index provider MSCI.com that companies with more women on their boards deliver 36% better equity than those lacking board diversity.

She challenges companies with the knowledge that, "From a business level, you can have a potential of 63% by incorporating the female perspective on the executive team and the boards of companies."

Freiha agrees that educating MENA's men will turn the tide. "It is difficult to argue culturally that a woman can disconnect herself from the household and community." Her own father, a United Arab Emirates native of Lebanese descent, preferred she get a job in the government, but after one month she quit and went on to create Womena. The fact that this win-lose situation was supported by an open-minded father, further propelled Freiha to start her own business.

"From a business level, you can have a potential of 63% by incorporating the female perspective on the executive team and the boards of companies." - Elissa Frei

While not all men share the open-mindedness of Freiha's dad, a striking number of MENA's women have convincingly demonstrated that the talent pool is skilled, capable and all-around impressive. One such woman is the prominent Sheikha Lubna bint Khalid bin Sultan Al-Qasimi, who is currently serving as a cabinet minister in the United Arab Emirates and previously headed a successful IT strategy company.

Al-Qasimi exemplifies the potential for MENA women in leadership, but how can one example become a cultural norm? Marcello Bonatto, who runs Re: Coded, a program that teaches young people in Turkey, Iraq and Yemen to become technology leaders, believes that multigenerational education is the key. He believes in the importance of educating the parent along with their offspring, "particularly when it comes to women." Bonatto notes the number of conflict-affected youth who have succeeded through his program—a boot camp training in technology.

The United Nations Women alongside Promundo—a Brazil-based NGO that promotes gender-equality and non-violence—sponsored a study titled, "International Men and Gender Equality Survey of the Middle East and North Africa in 2017."

This study surveyed ten thousand men and women between the ages of 18 and 59 across both rural and urban areas in Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco and the Palestinian Authority. It reports that, "Men expected to control their wives' personal freedoms from what they wear to when the couple has sex." Additionally, a mere one-tenth to one-third of men reported having recently carried out a more conventionally "female task" in their home.

Although the MENA region is steeped in historical tribal culture, the current conflict of gender roles is at a crucial turning point. Masculine power structures still play a huge role in these countries, and despite this obstacle, women are on the rise. But without the support of their nations' men this will continue to be an uphill battle. And if change won't come from the culture, maybe it can come from money. By educating MENA's men about these issues, the estimated $27 trillion that women could bring to their economies might not be a dream. Women have been empowering themselves for years, but it's time for MENA's men to empower its women.