Originally Posted: July 12, 2016
Picture the average Donald Trump supporter in your head. Whomever you pictured probably looks nothing like Katrina Pierson.
A single mother, Pierson voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and served on Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s Senate campaign in 2012. But it’s Pierson who supplies the average Trump supporter with their dinner table talking points.
Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee, tapped the 39-year-old Pierson to be his national spokeswoman in November. According to Politico, Pierson had impressed Trump, whom she met on the campaign trail while working for Cruz.
Pierson’s ascent into the spotlight of U.S. politics is as much the quintessential all-American story of a self-made life as it is unlikely.
As spokeswoman, Pierson serves as the Trump campaign’s most visible form of damage control. Over the course of nearly nine months, Pierson has served as Trump’s main line of defense on the broadcast news circuit, maintains an active social media presence, and scores regular appearances before CNN’s Don Lemon and Fox News’ Megyn Kelly.
To most PR people, defending Trump might seem like a tall order. But Pierson seemed to be well aware of that when she signed on to the job. The native of Garland, Texas, exhibits an admiration for Trump and his message that sometimes seems limitless. Even when her boss offends women, Muslims, or people of color, Pierson stands by his side.
“Perhaps Mr. Trump could have gone out and blamed Brexit on a video that never existed and maybe the media would have been okay with that.”
“The truth is, no one truly interesting is universally liked. So, most of the spin is to correct the biased reporting when he is pulled out of context,” Pierson said in a December interview with the Dallas Morning News. “The things he says are only controversial because we have evolved into a cupcake society. Everyone is offended by everything thanks to years of political correctness.”
Pierson’s disregard for political correctness is clear. You may be familiar with Pierson as the Trump official who retorted “So what, they’re Muslim!” in the middle of a debate with S.E. Cupp on Trump’s proposed ban on Muslim immigration. Or from when Pierson tweeted, “Are there any purebreeds left?” during the 2012 election, referring to the fathers of then President Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney being born overseas. Pierson also referred to President Obama on Twitter as the “head Negro in charge.” Like Obama, Pierson is half black.
When #TrumpGirlsBreaktheInternet began trending on Twitter, Pierson gamely jumped on the bandwagon.
Pierson, much like her boss, is candid and outspoken on both social media and cable news. When Pierson defends one of Trumps’ controversial positions on immigration, women, or national security, it will often add more fuel to the fire. If one of Trump’s statements lack any basis in fact, Pierson will often insist that it does. After Politifact found Trump’s claims on the vetting process to admit Syrian refugees into the United States false, Pierson retorted, “We’re not going to base national security off PolitiFact or even the United Nations.”
If one of Trump’s statements just seems ill-timed or insensitive, Pierson will often outright deflect. Trump was criticized for pointing out that one of the merits of Brexit was that it would bring more people to his golf course in Scotland; when asked to explain the faux pas, Pierson changed the subject to the Benghazi scandal, incorrectly stating that a YouTube video that sparked protests in the Middle East never existed.
“Perhaps Mr. Trump could have gone out and blamed Brexit on a video that never existed and maybe the media would have been okay with that,” Pierson said.
Such an approach has picked up plenty of criticism, even from Republicans.
“[Pierson] is a vital and integral part of Donald Trump’s plan to lose the election and hand the White House over to Hillary Clinton,” said Republican consultant Mike Murphy in an email to the Daily Dot. “She is a message train wreck.”
Others, meanwhile, have a more positive assessment of Pierson’s ability to control the message of a candidate as unpredictable as Trump—even if Pierson still seems like an odd choice for a major campaign spokeswoman.
Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, said in an interview with the Daily Dot that Trump’s hiring of Pierson was “deeply surprising” to him given her lack of experience. Jillson admitted his first thoughts upon hearing that Trump had picked Pearson was, “What the hell was he thinking? How did he even find out about her?”
Despite her relative newness to the world of national politics and presidential elections, Pierson has risen to the challenge, Jillson said.
“On the whole, she has not had the difficulty in being a spokeswoman that I would have expected her to have,” Jillson said. “There was no reason to believe when she was selected out of Dallas that she knew anything about national security, military affairs, even national domestic politics.” READ MORE