Update: So Kellyanne Conway’s Behind-The-Scenes White House Book Doesn’t Tell Negative Tales About Trump. It’s Still Unethical.

In this recent post, Item #4, I pronounced “Here’s the Deal,” former Trump campaign manager, PR flack and advisor KellyAnne Conway’s 500 page memoir of her White House days, an unethical betrayal of trust and professional ethics. According to the Washington Post,, Conway’s “tell-all” doesn’t do her former boss dirt, just other co-workers, like Jared Kushner and Anthony Fauci.

This post is to make a clarification: It doesn’t matter. Conway is still cashing in, and her book is still unethical. Workplaces do not work without mutual trust, and that means that no one can be candid, honest and spontaneous while thinking that what they do or say might be made public by an undeclared spy, mole, or blabber-mouth. Those like Conway who write books and get them out before the main characters have retired, died or faded from memory damage the workplace, politics, government, and human relations. They are ethics corrupters. They are selfish, destructive, betrayers. All of them. It doesn’t matter whether their fame arose from politics, Hollywood, the business world, journalism or someplace else. Such authors betray the trust of others for their own gain, unless every single individual mentioned by name for what they said or did has given advance consent.

As for Trump, here is an example noted by the Post in which Conway is not intending to denigrate her former boss:

In the waning days of his presidency, Conway also writes that, during a discussion with Trump on pardons and clemency, he turned to her and asked, “Do you want one?”

“Do you know something I don’t?” Kellyanne asked Trump, she writes. “Why would I need a pardon?”

“Because they go after everyone, honey. It doesn’t matter,” Trump replied, according the book.

“I politely declined,” she concludes.

That conversation was still confidential. Trump did not expect it to be made public. There are many ways the episode could be seen as reflecting negatively on the President, including his calling a 40+ year-old professional woman “honey.” If she did not specifically get his permission to relate that exchange, it was unethical to put it in the book.

13 thoughts on “Update: So Kellyanne Conway’s Behind-The-Scenes White House Book Doesn’t Tell Negative Tales About Trump. It’s Still Unethical.

    • So do I. He’s well aware that his opposition is trying to find dirt on everyone, Conway doesn’t believe she’s done anything illegal and they both got lucky that no dirt was uncovered and that he didn’t pardon her.

      Or, at least, he was lucky until this book came out and revealed his offer.

      • A.M. I find the exchange hilarious because Trump was absolutely correct in his assessment of the situation. The AUC doesn’t ever need to find dirt in order to commence or finalize a prosecution or impeachment. Trump was stating the obvious: the AUC would gin something up in a New York minute. It’s also a funny joke about the virtually unlimited breadth of the pardon power. It’s essentially regal. Just ask Mark Rich or his wife. Or Bill Clinton and Obama’s soon to be wing man, Eric Holder. I find candor from people in power refreshing. And humorous.

  1. I always thought Conway was one of the good gals but it turns out she is just another unethical swamp creature willing to sell her soul for a buck.
    The fact she did not insist that her disgusting pig of a husband shut the f\/ck up (oradiosasshole) while she was on staff is signature significant. I never understood that.

  2. “If she did not specifically get his permission to relate that exchange, it was unethical to put it in the book.”

    While I agree with the above statement, at this time we have no idea if she ran it by Trump for a sign off or not. It is telling that Trump has not levelled a barrage of insulting comments at her and the book if he found anything objectionable.

    It seems as if, today, every Tom, Dick and Harriet have a book to push. To expect anyone except historians would be interested in the routine and mundane activities that take place in the Whitehouse is unlikely. That would suggest that there must be a voracious appetite for salacious stories about others so that the reader can feel in some way superior. Perhaps the best way to get ethical behaviors by “insiders” is not to reward them by creating the demand for the dish on others. Incentivizing unethical behavior is as unethical as the behavior itself.

    • Chris, your last two sentences contradict each other. First you say the “voracious appetite” already exists followed by “not reward[ing] them by creating demand.”
      I presume this was unintentional or am I misinterpreting?
      There has always been a significant market demand for gossip books or publishers wouldn’t finance them.

  3. What I am saying is that demand creates the supply. If you want to see unethical behavior stop, you must first eliminate the incentives for others to engage in it. A good example is targeting the johns who solicit sex. Without the demand from johns the incentive for prostitution vaporizes.

    My point is that in these tell-all book examples we condemn the person who betrays a trust, but we never give equivalent condemnation for those who create the foundation for such behavior to exist in the first place; these are the buyers and the publishers.

    There is a market demand for all sorts of things that are immoral, illegal, and or unethical. We punish or shun some of those that create the demand as well as those who provide the supply. Until both sides of the coin are addressed it is unlikely you will eliminate the unethical behavior.

    • Yes, right, I get that, but good luck changing human nature Chris.
      People trafficking in tell-all books knowingly profit from *betrayal* and therefore the onus is on them not to exploit the baser instincts or nature of humans for that end. All of this is just free market dynamics but I contend the ones creating the product (drug) are more unethical than the ones unable to resist ingesting the drug.

      • Batman
        I would disagree with the notion that the onus is on the suppliers. What I have learned from this site is that we all have an equal responsibility for ethical behavior. It may be more unethical to exploit a weakness in human nature but that does not absolve the weak from their own responsibility to behave ethically. No one forces anyone to take money out of their pockets to buy these books. It is voluntary.

        Unlike many products that have some social utility when consumed prudently, such as alcohol or guns, these tell-all books could be likened to crime for hire services. Simply because there is a demand does not relieve the buyer of accountability. I suppose the question of who is more to blame comes down to which baser instinct originates the unethical behavior; the betrayer or the one that incentivizes the betrayal to satisfy its own needs.

        You said, “good luck changing human nature”. Isn’t that the purpose of this blog? Moreover, the lure of the quick buck is also human nature. If there was no money to be made, no publishers would finance them. Until we examine the origins of unethical behavior it stands to reason that simply pointing out the behavior of others does little to prevent it from occurring in the first place.

        • Chis, I see that we at least understand each other and both of our arguments have merit. To continue arguing and measuring the relative value of unethical behavior would be futile. I am coming from a place of utilitarianism and never said nor implied absolving those on the demand side.

          It is much easier to constrain or teach the relative few who profit from betrayal and/or unethical behavior than it is to change human nature in the masses. Crack cocaine was introduced within the inner city to exploit a pre-existing demand, among other reasons. If I understand your position correctly, you consider the impoverished addicts as equally unethical as the dealers and suppliers.

          Prostitution that you mentioned earlier exploits the male sex drive. Johns have been arrested in targeted sweeps and shamed by having their pics posted in newspapers. There was likely a temporary local reduction in sex for hire but prostitution overall remains unchanged as does the male sex drive. To focus on helping the relative few who resort to prostitution has greater utility than dealing with the male sex drive.

          • I don’t disagree with anything you posted. While I can agree that substantial blame falls on the betrayer we still need to stigmatize those who will incentivize the behavior.

  4. It should be a general principle in public life that profiting off of events and discussions intended to be private are unethical, unless one is a news reporter. Conway manifestly does not qualify for that exemption.

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