The Popularity of Press Bashing

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LinkedIn’s Crisis Communication group has a thoughtful conversation going about Maine Gov. Paul LePage’s press bashing.

In case you missed it, The AP reported that LePage was playing with an F-35 cockpit simulator on a tour at Pratt & Whitney, U.S.-based aerospace manufacturer, when he was asked what he wanted to “blow up.”

“LePage said that he’d like to blow up the headquarters of the Portland Press Herald, Maine’s largest newspaper. LePage spokeswoman Adrienne Bennett said the governor was clearly joking.”

The remark, captured in this brief video, triggered a series of responses, including the newspaper calling the FBI to get a comment about investigating bomb threats.

LePage and the papers in his state have been sparring for some time. But even before this aside, the governor had issued a declaration in June that he would no longer be talking to three Maine newspapers: the Portland Press Herald, the Kennebec Journal and the Morning Sentinel.

The Republican governor was reportedly angry about a three-part series that examined the governor’s “top environmental regulator and how her department’s actions have benefited her former lobbying clients in private industry,” according to the Portland paper.

LePage may not be getting a fair shake from local press – but he probably has mostly himself to blame. As anyone who’s lived and worked on both sides of the media/PR aisle knows, press bashing is a tactic that is growing in popularity. Rarely, however, does it deliver the intended result except for some back slapping, titters and high fives in inner circles.

Here’s what I shared via LinkedIn about the LePage remark:

“In poor taste and badly done. Jokes like this play to the lowest common denominator — press haters and press bashers. Those who have relationships with media (real relationships) know better. See how quickly Pratt & Whitney separated from the comment. Unfortunately, this is becoming a more common and intentional tactic — whether said under the breath or out loud. Yes, there are people who will quietly sidle up to the governor, pat him on the back, and agree (lobbyists, advisors, inner circles). But the smarter ones in the crowd know better to keep media friends friendly.”

BTW, if you Google LePage, you will find a most bizarre Wikipedia page.

However, you will find striking similarities in the narrative about his “Remarkable Life Story” in his official state bio.

LePage continues to get cited for his bombastic and inflammatory remarks now apparently being leaked and confirmed by fellow party officials, who won’t go on the record for fear of retribution.

Other publicly critical comments of recent media reports and media actions:

USC News

A letter to the USC community from Provost Elizabeth Garrett about media reports on sexual assaults on campus.

Gov. Mike Pence comment via AP

Pence blaming the media for creating “anxiety” over questions about the integrity of the state’s A-F school grading formula.

The National GOP Party

The National Republican Party votes to pull its debate partnership with two networks major networks for 2016 due to scheduled programming about Democrat Hillary Clinton.

(Note: Not sure why there are more GOP invoked press bashing incidents of late in the news, but these are the most recent events that have made headlines. If the Democrats have been doing the same, feel free to share examples in the comments section of this post.)

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2 Comments
  1. Democrats have no need to bash. They are given a free pass by tbe mostly left-leaning media.

  2. Hey, Kyle. You asked for press-bashing examples from Democrats. I’m checking in to your blog from Massachusetts, where Democrats rule the roost at the golden-domed Statehouse upon Beacon Hill, high above Boston Common. @Billy_Baker, a feature writer for The Boston Globe, today tweeted this pithy example of press bashing by a noted Bay State pol:
    ——-
    Just had a long chat with Billy Bulger, during which he informed me that “the Globe is nothing but the Herald with verbs.”
    – @Billy_Baker, 3:39pm, 4 Sept 2013
    ——
    “Billy Bulger” is William M. Bulger, former president pro tem of the Massachusetts Senate, which led him to become president of the University of Massachusetts. He is also brother of recently convicted mobster and alleged multiple murderer James “Whitey” Bulger Jr. (Not that getting caught talking with his federal fugitive brother didn’t cost Billy Bulger his UMass presidency or anything.)

    Billy Bulger does double duty here. Not only does he bash the Globe, but he also provides a handy tool to separate the quality broadsheet from the trashy tabloid the next time you visit Chicago (Trib vs. Sun-Times), New York (NYT vs. Daily News and Post), or even the supposed Hub Of The Universe (Globe vs. Herald). Just look for the presence or absence of verbs! May also work in foreign cities such as London (Times, Telegraph, and Guardian vs. Daily Mail, Express, etc.) and even Toronto (Globe & Mail and Toronto Star vs. Toronto Sun).

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