On Donald Trump’s personal blog, “Carolyn,”4 about Carolyn Kepcher, Donald Trump’s former apprentice on his Apprentice show, Trump wrote that Ms. Kepcher was terminated because “she loved her fame and she loved her celebrity on The Apprentice and it was affecting her work. She wasn’t doing her job like she used to or was capable of doing.” Mr. Trump told Ms. Kepcher, “in the nicest way possible, Get a new job.” He did not say “you’re fired.” He replaced Ms. Kepcher with his daughter, Ivanka Trump. Was it ethical of Trump to broadcast this type of information to the general public? Compare the information found in each week’s People maga- zine, or Us Weekly. Is there a difference? Does it matter that the sources in those publications are journalists and here it is the original decision maker publicizing the basis of the decision? Does it matter that Ms. Kepcher voluntarily sought a position in the public eye? If so, what personal information would then be acceptable for Mr. Trump to share about Ms. Kepcher and what information would you consider too personal to be shared? Where should we, as a society, draw our legal and ethical lines? For instance, what about the extensive media cover- age of speculation about Michael Jackson’s reputed drug use immediately after his death? Any ethical issues there? Is it the same as the Trump situation? If not, why?
- In your opinion, was it ethical for Mr. Trump to broadcast this type of information to the general public?
- In your opinion, where should we, as a society, draw our legal and ethical lines regarding the type of information shared in this context?
Social media has made it easier for people to share excessive information on public platform. Blogging only give a free rein to demonstrate a level of unethical behavior with the sense of isolation where people can freely express their thoughts or opinions without using any form of self-censoring (Sweetser, 2014).
A journalist is hired to share elite information with the public on the ground that there are certain statutory regulations that the journalists are required to comply with prior to the disclosure of such information. For instance, the journalists are prohibited from slandering and defaming the character of any individual.
On the facts here, the difference between the Trumps’ perspectives and the perspective of the Journalist with respect to the termination of ‘The Apprentice Star’ lies in the fact that Trump had superior knowledge about Carolyn Kepcher than the journalists. Donald Trump had greater knowledge about the termination of Kepcher and her performance than the media. Therefore, he was capable of observing the performance of Kepcher and was capable of providing a comparative assessment of her work performance before and after she acquired the celebrity status (Doeden, 2017).
On the other hand, a journalist would not have been able to obtain detailed knowledge about Kepcher and her termination event because a journalist is often provided with information that he/she would receive from external sources. Further, such information should be verified prior to revelation of such information to the public.
In regards to the statement asserted by Trump that she loved her fame and celebrity status on ‘The Apprentice’, which was affecting her work performance, Trump was aware that the initial objective of Kepcher was to obtain apposition in the eyes of public. It establishes the fact that she only desired to obtain a celebrity status right from the time she commenced her career. Trump had the option not to hire her on the same ground that her only objective was to become a celebrity, thus, not forfeiting high-quality performance. Trump could have hired a suitable and more appropriate candidate than Kepcher, who was more capable to deal with success than Kepcher.
As mentioned earlier, social media has become an easy medium to share much information about public. However, there are certain things that should be kept as confidential. The reasons for dismissal so long there are no statutory contraventions, it is better that such information is kept confidential and not shared with public (O'Brien, 2015). On the facts here, Trump had knowledge about the fact that Kepcher was more focused on earning fame than on her work performance but he still hired her, without having regards to the work performance. Hence, it would have been more reasonable if he had stuck to the reason that Kepcher was not performing well as per her capability for which she is terminated.
The fact that she wants fame and loved her celebrity status cannot be used as a reasonable reason for termination as it has nothing to do with her capabilities. She yearns for fame, which cannot be said to incapacitate her abilities. The comment might affect her career in future hence, in my opinion; it was not ethical for Trump to broadcast such information in the given context as her yearn for fame is her private interest and making it public was not justified.
Several issues relating to basic rights have arisen under the US Constitution involving the extensive use of media coverage such as rights to privacy, freedom of speech, etc. In both the Michael Jackson’s and the Kepcher’s case, ethical issues have arose due to the extensive use of social media. Social media is public platform, which can be used to educate public or misused to the detriment of individuals. Hence, it is essential to provide information while publishing content public. This is because misrepresenting information with the hope that readers would remain indifferent to such information can be perceived as unethical (Kimball & Kim, 2013).
Further, construing personal characteristics, character and professionalism from information provided on social media is complicated. This is because personality traits posted online may give a hint to the personality of an individual but it may or may not be an accurate reflection of the persons’ character. For instance, in Michael Jackson’s case, how is it possible to determine from social network that he showed signs of alcohol or drug abuse? Similarly, in case of Kepcher, the fact that her desire to become a celebrity and attain fame is the reason for her termination cannot be determined through some photos or statements. However, being the president of the country, statements asserted by him might affect her career or question her personal life. Therefore, it is essential to understand and think before sharing information on social media about the impact it might have on the person sharing and the public altogether.
Doeden, M. (2017). Ivanka Trump: A Brand of Her Own. Lerner Publications.
Kimball, E., & Kim, J. (2013). Virtual boundaries: Ethical considerations for use of social media in social work. Social Work, 58(2), 185-188.
O'Brien, T. (2015). TrumpNation: The Art of Being The Donald. Open Road Media.
Sweetser, K. D. (2014). Ethics, Reputation, and Social Media. Ethical practice of social media in public relations, 205.
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