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  • Press Handlers Losing Their Grips

    Campaign press handlers are like baseball umpires.  Do their job right and no one should notice them.

    A lot of people have been noticing the media minders in the current presidential campaign.  That’s not a good thing.

    For example there was a traveling press secretary for Mitt Romney who blew his top in Warsaw on July 31 and cursed out reporters who had the nerve to shout questions to his candidate. Rick Gorka didn’t like the shouted questions from reporters frustrated due to lack of access.  “Kiss my ass,” he told one reporter who complained about not being given a chance to question Romney.  “Shove it!” he told another.  Gorka later apologized but served as an example of press wranglers trying too hard to control the message.

    Then last week President Obama was speaking at a high school in the Philadelphia area. Dave Davies, a reporter for WHYY the local NPR affiliate, had to be at the venue hours before the President arrived.  He tried to fill time by interviewing early arriving audience members (strong Obama supporters) only to be told that was against the rules by campaign press handlers who refused to give their names. Davies radio report can be heard here.

    And now Politico reports that Biden campaign spokespeople who have taken it on themselves to try to edit media pool reports (written descriptions of events filed by a single reporter for the benefit of his or her colleagues when the location won’t accommodate open coverage.)  As NBC White House Correspondent, Chuck Todd explains in the clip below – such manipulation is unprecedented and unacceptable. (h/t Mediaite)

    Someone needs to tell these press herders that by going too far in trying to control the message — they are sending the entirely wrong message about their candidate and their campaigns.   No one ever bought a ticket to a ballgame to watch the umpires and no one elected these handlers to run roughshod over reporters.

  • Major (General) Hang Ups In Talking To Reporters

    Some people have hang ups when dealing with the media.  Air Force Major General Susan Mashiko shows  in a story in today’s McClatchy Newspapers why is not wise to prematurely end a phone conversation with a journalist.

    It seems there is an ongoing investigation at the National Reconnaissance Office (a large but largely unknown part of the intelligence community.) According to McClatchy, an unnamed senior officer at the spy satellite outfit is being scrutinized for possible illegal actions involving contractors and NRO’s number two — MGEN Mashiko — has been accused of trying to intimidate potential whistleblowers and shield the person being investigated.

    So as journalists are apt to do — a reporter got Mashiko’s home phone number and called her. But according to McClatchy: “she hung up as soon as she understood that a reporter was calling.”

    Want to make yourself look guilty?  That’s a good start.

    In contrast, McClatchy contacted former NRO director Bruce Carlson who stepped down before the criminal investigation was opened.  He too didn’t want to talk about the specifics but according to the story: “spoke at length in praise of the agency’s work, calling its last three years “the most successful in the past quarter century.”

    Sure, his task was easier since he hasn’t been publicly linked to the  problem — but Mashiko could take a lesson from her old boss.  She could have politely told the reporter that it would be inappropriate for her to comment at this time because of an ongoing investigation but that she takes pride in the work that she and her colleagues have done.  Instead she comes across as someone with something to hide and it makes readers wonder — maybe she does.

    .

    Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/08/13/2950294_p3/national-reconnaissance-office.html#storylink=cpy
    Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/08/13/2950294_p2/national-reconnaissance-office.html#storylink=cpy
  • Worst Interview of the Year

    Maybe he didn’t know he was on TV.  That’s the only explanation we can come up with for Matt Boyle’s interview on Fox News Tuesday.  An investigative reporter for The Daily Caller, Boyle was on to talk about ….well, something or other — it was hard to focus on it because of all the distractions.

    We are indebted to FishbowlDC for pointing out this train wreck of an interview. It was bad enough that Boyle went on air looking like Eddie Munster on crack.  Fishbowl described his hair as looking like a “giant hairy tarantula” had taken up residence on his head.

    What was worse was Boyle’s annoying habit of moving his mouth and lips while his interviewer was talking — as if he were the world’s worst ventriloquist.

    But worst of all — was his inability to boil down the central points in his supposed bombshell news report to a clear understandable allegation.

     

    Remote interviews like the one Boyle botched are not easy to do.  You need to have a clear message in your head before you go on the air, you need to project a calm image looking into the camera while pretending the lens is your interviewer and it also doesn’t hurt to comb your hair.