Breakfast Briefing, 8.16.2017: The 5 stories PR pros need to know on Wednesday morning

The business and political worlds are trying to digest President Trump's Tuesday press conference, in which he refused to solely blame white supremacists for Saturday's violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Members of both major political parties, the media, business people, athletes, celebrities, and everyday Americans have reacted with anger and disbelief at President Donald Trump’s Tuesday afternoon press conference from Trump Tower in New York. The president again blamed white supremacists and counter-protesters equally for Saturday’s violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, and said "fine people" were among those marching Friday night against the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. (Those marchers were chanting "Jews will not replace us" and other sayings associated with the Nazi movement). 

Again, this is much bigger than a "communications story." However, Trump’s mind-boggling decision to reverse course erased any goodwill he won with Monday’s clear denunciation of white supremacists. The event left aides angry and confused, with several venting to reporters on a not-for-attribution basis that Trump freelanced the press Q&A on his own. No prominent members of Trump’s communications or White House staff have resigned as of Wednesday morning. (More on the White House comms team below).

How the corporate world is responding: AFL-CIO leader Richard Trumka stepped down from the White House manufacturing council shortly after Trump’s remarks, as did his deputy. Pepsi’s chief executive is under pressure from Color of Change to quit the advisory council. Walmart’s CEO told employees on Monday that Trump missed an opportunity to unite the country after Saturday’s events. And Procter & Gamble is running a new anti-racism ad campaign. About the advisory council: What was once a plum appointment is now a reputational risk, according to The Washington Post.

How the political world is responding. Subtweeting the president: Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, former Republican standard bearer Mitt Romney, LeBron James, the commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, and several other prominent Republicans. Loving it: white nationalist Richard Spencer and David Duke. In a statement that would have made even Winston Smith’s head spin, new Republican National Committee spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany tweeted, "The GOP stands behind [Trump’s] message of love and inclusiveness!"

New this morning: Trump loyalist Hope Hicks has been named White House communications director, according to The Daily Caller, following the short but memorable tenure of Anthony Scaramucci. Hicks was one of the earliest members of the Trump campaign. The White House has not yet confirmed the appointment.

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