A former editor at the Observer says Kushner's claim of coronavirus 'success' stems from his inability to empathize with other people's grief

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A former editor at the Observer says Kushner's claim of coronavirus 'success' stems from his inability to empathize with other people's grief
Senior White House Advisor Jared Kushner is pictured at a daily coronavirus press briefing on April 2, 2020.Win McNamee/Getty
  • An editor who worked for Jared Kushner at the New York Observer described him as lacking empathy and unable to understand grief, in a recent Washington Post op-ed.
  • Elizabeth Spiers recounted an incident where Kushner used the memorial of a staffer to congratulate himself.
  • She drew parallels between Kushner's behavior in that incident and his claims that his coronavirus response team is successful despite being made up of inexperienced volunteers who failed to secure medical supplies for the US.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

In an op-ed for The Washington Post, Elizabeth Spiers, a former editor at the New York Observer, described Jared Kushner, now a senior advisor to President Donald Trump, as someone unable to emphasize or understand other people's grief.

"When I knew him, he seemed constitutionally incapable of considering the humanity of other people as a starting point," Spiers wrote in an op-ed in The Washington Post, where she described Jared Kushner's comments at a memorial for an employee at the Observer who had died.

Spiers, who worked for Kushner after he bought the Observer, told a story of Kushner launching into a "supercilious monologue crediting himself with finally getting the paper published on time after what he described as chaos when he arrived," after he was asked to say a few words at Tyler Rush's memorial.

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She uses the incident to say that Kushner has always tried to credit himself as successful at any expense. Her op-ed comes in light of reports that the coronavirus response team was staffed with inexperienced volunteers who were struggling to get medical supplies for the US.

In late April, during an interview with Fox News' "Fox and Friends," Kushner called the response to the novel coronavirus "a great success story." At the time the death toll in the US surpassed 60,000. As of Friday, May 8, the US death toll is now beyond 77,000, according to Johns Hopkins University.

"After bungling many high-profile efforts to address various problems and often making them worse (see, Middle East, peace in), he keeps being handed more responsibilities with higher stakes. He has wasted taxpayer resources and endangered lives trying on policy roles usually reserved for the country's top experts with the sophistication of a child playing dress-up, cavalierly discarding them when he can't fit into them," Spiers wrote of Kushner's role in the current administration.

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However, for her, it makes sense. Kushner, she said, used the memorial to boast and congratulate himself.

Spiers was astonished that he would use the memorial to make a speech and then not understand why it was upsetting.

"He could not register the grief of the people in the room that day for the same reason that he apparently can't register the grief millions of Americans are experiencing now as their lives are upended by COVID-19 and people they love become sick and die," she wrote.

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She said the senior advisor is then able to lie in front of cameras and use his position to "trade favors," while blaming others for failures that inevitability were a result of his "mismanagement."

Kushner didn't understand why anyone would be in the role of a journalist or be doing a job they couldn't monetize, Spiers claimed. For him, she said, that meant they weren't smart. Spiers also described Kushner as a man who saw relationships as transactional and "this failure of empathy permeated everything he did."

The White House did not respond to Business Insiders email request for comment at the time of publication.

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Read Spiers' entire op-ed here »

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