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Word To The President: 'Professionalism'

President Donald Trump.
Evan Vucci
President Donald Trump.

A chorus of distinguished names from President Trump's own party have condemned his personal attack on Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough of MSNBC. I'd rather not repeat the president's words, which are ugly. A number of Republicans told Trump his tweets have been beneath the dignity of the presidency.

"This has to stop," Sen. Susan Collins of Maine tweeted. "– we all have a job – 3 branches of gov't and media. We don't have to get along, but we must show respect and civility."

Based on his campaign and five months in the White House, I do not know if calls for respect, civility and dignity reach President Trump. Please let me try another word: professionalism.

I like to think New Yorkers in particular respect professionalism, when they see it in a Broadway singer, a billionaire, a politician, police officer, a street vendor, or Derek Jeter.

Professionals respect the public. They treat each other with respect. They do their jobs and don't kvetch when other professionals do theirs.

Years ago, I did a profile of New York's Mayor Ed Koch. He didn't like it, and called to tell me so, in a 10-minute harangue that was as eloquently profane as the iron screech of the No. 7 Flushing train. The mayor told me I was wrong; the critics I included in the story were crazy, and a guy from the Midwest, which is how he dismissed Chicago, couldn't possibly understand his New York charm. I told the mayor he was entitled to his opinion.

Then Mayor Koch stopped and said, "Well, I've had my say. How are you?" We each did our jobs and had a respectful, even cordial, professional reporter-and-politician relationship for years thereafter.

President Trump may insist he is not a professional politician. But Donald Trump has been a public figure for more than five decades. It is the life he chose. He's been eager to be featured in financial columns, personality profiles, talk shows, magazine covers, TV shows and gossip columns. He's shared intimate details of his life on The Howard Stern Show.

Some reporting on Donald Trump has been aggressive and fair, some of it has been simply fawning, and some of it no doubt has sometimes been wrong. But professionals do their best, shrug off critics, or even smile, and just keep on going. A man shouldn't come to bat in Yankee Stadium and then complain when someone throws him a curve.

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