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White House Reporter Talks Trump, Tweeting and Trust

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Retired ABC news reporter Ann Compton says “big” is under threat with Donald Trump in the White House.

“Everything from big media … to big political dynasties — they are all under siege and being ended by Trump, such as the Clintons and the Bushes,” she said to a crowd of about 700 independent broker-dealer executives and advisors at FSI OneVoice 2017 in San Francisco on Tuesday.

When it comes to Trump’s improvisational style, “What you saw in the campaign equals what you see with him as president,” said Compton, adding that his Secret Service name is “Mogul.”

Today’s power centers, she explains, “are the Oval Office and his Twitter feed!”

In the Oval Office, the first move he made was to work on repealing the Affordable Care Act. “There’s strong symbolism here,” said Compton. For those for you for whom regulation is an important issue, you have a friend in the Oval Office.”

While Trump seems to be moving to implement his agenda at a rapid pace, the winds of change shift consistently in Washington, says the speaker, who covered seven U.S. presidents before retiring after 41 years.

“Some had a … majority in Congress of the same party, and all left office with the opposing party” in Congress, Compton said.

The veteran journalist said that Trump’s election reminds her of Ronald Reagan’s, since he was an outsider. She also emphasized that with the birth of CNN in 1980, the emergence of other networks about 16 years later and the rise of talk radio, the media landscape “has shattered the political cohesion in Washington, D.C.”

In 2000, with George W. Bush going against Al Gore, “We had one of most divided elections… we were a nation so divided,” Compton said.

She sees the rapidly changing media landscape giving people new places “to find a political comfort zone online,” and that contributes to the divisiveness.

Cabinet, Crisis

“It is looking like all Trump’s choices are going through,” said Compton. “Seven have no government-service experience, and there are no big names.”

As for the big Republican Party campaigners like Newt Gingrich, “None are in the Cabinet,” which is wise; Trump and his team probably did not want “any political lightning rods,” she explained.

“Unconventionality should be welcomed in a cabinet,” said Compton, adding that secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson has reportedly used “deliberate theatrical tactics” in his negotiations for ExxonMobile.

Beyond the personalities President Trump enlists to work with him and the priorities he focuses on, he will be sure to be tested in unpredictable ways.

“All presidents are defined not by a list of issues … but by the crisis that comes into his path,” Compton said. For Barack Obama, it was the economy. George H. W. Bush faced a crisis with a cult in Waco, Texas. George W. Bush, of course, dealt with the Sept. 11 attacks.

Compton was with the younger President Bush on that fateful day. “It was the reporting challenge of my career, as I just did everything via a flip phone … and we did not know where would end up.”

Future Shock

Just like advisors and the threat of robo-advisors, she worries about the impact of online news on the state of journalism.

“How we get the news is in danger of becoming shorter and shallower — 140 characters. That does not address news as needed,” Compton explained.

This concern, which advisors have as investor clients follow stock quotes and online advice, means that individuals can define themselves through “their own universe,” she explains.

Likewise, “The news is not about you as reporters. It’s about the consumers, the viewers,” the speaker said.

She then related how President George H.W. Bush had wrote her a note of apology after an exchange concerning Middle East relations following Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990.

“Respect breeds respect,” said Compton.  


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