US president Donald Trump’s habit of publicizing investments and jobs that were already planned before he took office has sparked a new contender for the dictionary:
Prenounce, v.. to announce a deal that will subsequently be announced as completely new by the president some months or years later. Example: “Oh, we prenounced that one in August.”
Two recent examples of Trump’s credit-taking: On March 24, he invited Charter Communications CEO Tom Rutledge to the Oval Office and said he was “thrilled to announce” the company had committed to adding 20,000 jobs in the US. Rutledge, though, had first said back in 2015 that he planned to add that number after a merger with Time Warner Cable.
In what looked like an attempt to avoid contradicting the president, a Charter spokesman told CNNMoney after the White House visit that while the company had spoken about those jobs before, it “wasn’t a commitment. Today we committed to a time frame of four years for those hires.”
And on March 28, Trump flagged a “big announcement” and “major investment” from Ford on Twitter, adding “JOBS! JOBS! JOBS!” The investment in question, which adds 130 jobs, was part of 2015 negotiations with the United Auto Workers union.
Trump’s desire to show that he’s creating jobs puts corporate management in an awkward position. They’re eager to please a president who has been known to lash out at individual companies on Twitter, but they don’t want to lose credibility with investors and analysts who rely on them for factual, market-moving information.
Besides being awkward for companies, the phenomenon helps fuel the bifurcation of reality portrayed in US news coverage. The headline of an article on the recent Ford announcement on Reuters, for example, read “Trump applauds Ford’s previous planned investment in Michigan plants.” Breitbart, however, led with “Trump Jobs Boom Continues: Ford Motor Co. Announces Investment in 3 Michigan Plants.”
So what’s a company to do when the president steals its thunder—or rather, takes its already-used thunder and appropriates it as his own? Asked this question recently, two senior public-relations officials for another large US-traded company that had been dealt a similar treatment responded with resigned shrugs, and one dropped the new word casually into conversation without any evident irony: “Well, we did prenounce, too,” he said.
In other words, this is just the way it is now: When the president announces your old news as new, you just have to remind people that you prenounced it.