3 CEO’s Quit President’s Council After Charlottesville, Guess Which One Trump Attacked on Twitter

After Charlottesville, Donald Trump still Doesn’t Get It

Donald Trump spent Monday afternoon making a second attempt to appear presidential in the wake of Saturday’s Nazi-inspired terrorist attack in Charlottesville, Virgina. After blatantly refusing to rebuke the Neo-Nazis, Neo-Confederates and other white supremacist groups that fueled the attack which led to the murder of Heather Heyer, the President offered a half-hearted, uninspired five-minute address where he specifically mentioned “the K.K.K., neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups“. Yet his initial refusal to lay blame at the feet of the hate groups who killed Heyer and injured dozens had already caused plenty of damage inside his administration. And in true Trump fashion, he didn’t miss the opportunity to use that damage as a dog-whistle to the very same white supremacists he reluctantly admonished.

Three CEO’s who were chosen as part of the American Manufacturing Council — chosen by Trump in January to grow the manufacturing sector of the economy — stepped down from their positions on the council Monday. Kenneth C. Frazier, CEO of pharmaceutical giant Merck, announced on Twitter that he would no longer be serving the President:

“I am resigning from the President’s American Manufacturing Council.” the statement began. “Our country’s strength stems from its divesity and the contributions made by men and women of different faiths, races, sexual orientations and political beliefs. 

America’s leaders must honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy, which run counter to the American ideal that all people are created equal. 

As CEO of Merck and as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism.” 

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Later Monday, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank followed Frazier’s lead. On the company’s twitter account he released the following statement:

“I joined the American Manufacturing Council because I believed it was important for Under Armour to have an active seat at the table and represent our industry. We remain resolute in our potential and ability to improve American manufacturing. However, Under Armour engages in innovation and sports, not politics.

I am appreciative of the opportunity to have served, but have decided to step down from the council. I love our country and our company and will continue to focus my efforts on inspiring every person that they can do anything through the power of sport which promotes unity, diversity and inclusion.”

Finally, in a company blog post, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich announced that he, too, was resigning from the council:

I have already made clear my abhorrence at the recent hate-spawned violence in Charlottesville, and earlier today I called on all leaders to condemn the white supremacists and their ilk who marched and committed violence. I resigned because I want to make progress, while many in Washington seem more concerned with attacking anyone who disagrees with them. We should honor – not attack – those who have stood up for equality and other cherished American values. I hope this will change, and I remain willing to serve when it does.

Only One Resignation Inspired Trump to Open his Twitter App

Plank’s statement differs from his fellow resignees in the sense that he doesn’t even hint at the turmoil in Charlottesville or the greater national desire for equality and tolerance. Which is fine. Choosing to simply stay out of “politics” has long been a safe practice in the athletic apparel industry. But the eloquence and intent of both Krzanich and Frazier were unmistakable and quite similar.  Both executives clearly stated that the events and reactions to the Charlottesville tragedy were at the forefront of their decision to step down. And President Trump used that resignation to attack one of them professionally.

Now, you’re not going to find many people – left, right or center – that are going to rush to the defense of Big Pharma. They’ve been a convenient target for politicians far across the spectrum from Trump to George W. Bush to Bernie Sanders. But the sneaker industry and silicon valley have come under just as much fire for manufacturing overseas. They’re hardly considered Good Samaritans when it comes to fair global labor wages and practices. So why didn’t Intel and Under Armour draw a rapid response from the Tweeter-In-Chief?

While all three CEO’s are exceptionally successful in their respective fields, there’s one detail that separates Frazier from his counterparts. He’s African-American whereas Plank and Krzanich are white. It was the CEO of color who was immediately targeted on twitter while the other two simply resigned and moved on without a peep from Trump Tower, the White House or Bedminster. This is vintage Donald Trump dog-whistling. He instinctively thinks of Frazier differently than he does Plank or Krzanich. And given their shared private sector success, there’s only one plausible reason for Donald Trump to think Frazier stands out.

And it’s the same line of thinking that carried him to the nomination and the presidency.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons Public Domain; Donald J Trump on Twitter.com 

Ed Hanratty is a Reverb Press contributor and freelance political journalist. A lifelong New Jerseyan, he prides himself on having just enough Garden State sarcasm and skepticism to keep his bleeding heart in check. Keep up with Ed's work and random ramblings on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the links below...but not Snapchat — that's where he's decided to draw the social media line. (For Now)