A Case Study on How Bullies Deflect by Destroying Whistleblowers

The Queen of Spin is at it again. After a hiatus where we were spared from listening to Kellyanne Conway spread misinformation all over the daily news cycle, she recently sparred with CNN’s Chris Cuomo in full exhibition of bullying as she masterfully manipulated, distorted and denied the truth. There’s no denying how perfectly she inhabits the role of Trump surrogate.

It’s hard not to imagine Conway as the adult version of the flawlessly blond, treacherous and manipulative bully Regina George in the 2004 movie Mean Girls. In the movie, Regina attacks her rival, Cady (played by Lindsay Lohan), by spreading the high school equivalent of misinformation. Until Regina’s final comeuppance (which requires being hit by a bus—what a metaphor!) she has absolutely no scruples about doing whatever it takes to get her way.

I have done extensive research on bullies and Conway (and her colleague Sarah Huckabee Sanders) are textbook examples of how bullies operate. Most appalling is their defense of outright lies and the assumption that people really are that gullible. Even more disturbing is the message that this sends to youth—that it is OK to lie to get your way. I watch with amazement as the Trumpniks use bullying tactics right out of the Steve Bannon playbook and try to turn victims into villains by recasting whistleblowers as leakers. (Something I discuss in detail in the chapter on whistleblowers in my book, From Bully to Bull’s-Eye: Move Your Organization Out of the Line of Fire). This is so typical of how bullies operate, which is perfectly captured in yesterday’s piece by Joshua Green in New York Magazine, which crystallizes Bannon’s strategy on his bully boss’s behalf perfectly: “Attack, Attack, Attack.”

I wonder if Conway and company have considered the fact these mendacities have gone beyond bullying, beyond lying and are making them complicit in something that’s starting to look very much like treason.

Photo credit: CNN