Thursday, April 28, 2011

Why Donald Trump Would Get an F (in my class)

The Donald is not The Researcher
This is not about politics; it's about veracity and logic. (Yes, it's sad that these words together - politics with veracity and logic - should seem so oxymoronic.)

As you may know, one of the courses I teach at NYU is Research Process & Methodology for students in the M.S. program in Public Relations and Corporate Communication. An objective is to help them prepare a comprehensive proposal for their thesis projects. After they complete their degree, a few may go further into the research realm. But I'm quite satisfied if they leave having the tools and confidence to be good purchasers and evaluators of research.

We're nearly at the end of the semester and I like to remind students of the original objectives and discuss whether or not we reached them. That's when Mr. Trump popped into my head. With his rise in the political polls tied to his investigation into the president's birthplace, just what kind of purchaser and evaluator of research is he?

As a purchaser - he hired "people" who were deployed to Hawaii to determine if a birth certificate (the "certificate of live birth" in that state) existed or was altered. On one occasion after another he told the world that "you're not going to believe what I'm hearing" and "I'm hearing that it's missing." I wonder if his research team will get paid now that copies of the certificate from the official bound volume of documents have been released by the state at the president's request.

As an evaluator - he ignored previously released certified documents, hospital birth announcements and a mountain of facts from the government of Hawaii and investigators from the news media. As of this writing, he still has not given his blessing to the "long form" certificate of live birth that he sought so doggedly these last few weeks.

Of course, I couldn't fire Mr. Trump if he were in my class. Strictly on the basis of his research performance and expertise, however, he'd get an F.

With his F, though, he's still one clever guy. As the citizenship issue dies down (but kept alive at some level, I'm sure), Trump is ramping up the next crusade - the president's grades and whether he truly earned his way in to Columbia and Harvard. By finding new platforms to question the credibility and legitimacy of the president, he remains in the spotlight - whether it's for political gain or for TV ratings. Clearly, if there was a class on self-promotion he'd get an A.

Between blog posts, you can follow me @pauloestreicher.

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