Preet reboot: Taking a page out of the president's playbook

Ronald J. Rosenberg, BridgeTower Media Newswires

President Trump has not only discarded the presidential rulebook on how the Oval Office connects with the American voter, but has blown it up, buried the accompanying roadmap and shattered the media’s role of acting as the exclusive conduit for connecting with the country. Whether you embrace him, loathe him or are still trying to figure him out, Trump apparently has altered how our nation’s politicians will communicate with their base. It is a lesson being closely watched by others who may seek elective office in this revolutionary age of social media.

Among those who seem to be reinventing the traditional pursuit of political ambition is Preet Bharara, the ambitious former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. Before he was recently fired by Trump, Preet was one of the most media-savvy prosecutors to hold that job since Rudy Giuliani. Appearing before many of New York’s boldface names, his keynote speech during the annual gathering of the Regional Plan Association (a most curious venue for a prosecutor) demonstrated his skill as an orator, and his confidence in discussing issues that would go far beyond that of a U.S. attorney. It was evident to everyone at the Waldorf ballroom that this was a guy setting the stage for elective office. What he needed was to continue to do his job to ensure he would have a strong and credible platform from which to showcase the Preet brand.

That ended when Trump played chess with U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer and took out Schumer’s knight. (Preet was formerly a most favored Schumer Congressional staffer.)

So what would Preet’s next move be in his quest to remain relevant so that he could still position himself as a viable candidate? In the EBT (Era Before Trump) he probably would have joined an established “white shoe” law firm where a high-six-figure salary would enable him to pen the occasional op-ed for The New York Times and offer interviews to WCBS’ Marcia Kramer during a Sunday morning broadcast. But that was then. This is politics in the age of Trump, Twitter and turbulence.

Instead, Mr. Bharara is clearly adopting a number of chapters from the president’s playbook. He is becoming a social media guru by joining his brother’s media company, Some Spider Studios. He is writing a book that will surely be featured at Barnes & Noble down on Union Square and at private book parties along Park Avenue; he is hosting a podcast entitled “Stay Tuned with Preet;” he will write articles for various websites; and he is continuing to tweet as he did during his days as U.S. Attorney. In short, he is establishing his own communications conduit to the people and personalities he will need to convince that he is a political “fleet in being.” While profoundly different from the chief executive, he is following his playbook.

Preet, however, has not abandoned the traditional pathways to a candidacy. He has joined the New York University School of Law as a distinguished scholar in residence, which will give him the cloak of thoughtful academic independence, much as Dwight Eisenhower was president of Columbia University before the Republicans insisted he must accept their nomination to be president.

Will other politicians put aside their ideology to recognize that Trump has profoundly, and perhaps permanently, changed how they communicate with voters? Gov. Andrew Cuomo depends on the power of incumbency to position himself as a presidential aspirant. While he is said to watch his poll numbers with the intensity of a desert vulture at high noon, he still depends on media to forward his message on to voters. Local politicians have discovered social media, but no one is tweeting to the point where media is forced to chase after their messaging. It was Trump who used it to devastating effect during the election and is now altering American politics. He will not want to admit it, but Preet has become an ardent disciple.


Ronald J. Rosenberg, a graduate of St. John’s University Law School and resident of Old Westbury, is senior founding partner of Rosenberg, Calica & Birney LLP, a Garden City law firm.