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Media Training: The Mooch Could Have Used Some

  August 1, 2017

Anthony Scaramucci lasted just 10 days as White House Communications Director. 

The Mooch appeared at ease interacting with journalists on camera.  Perhaps just the person the President needed to communicate his messaging to the media and stop the leaks.  He seemed ready to engage with the mainstream media in a way that Sean Spicer had not during his tenure as Press Secretary. 

Then came the self-inflicted, fatal wound.  If you want an “off the record” conversation with a journalist, those terms need to be discussed and agreed upon up front.  I tell my media training clients this.   Sometimes a reporter will not agree to an “off the record” interview.   So be it.  You are free to walk away. If you keep talking, everything you say is fair game. 

When Scaramucci went on a vulgar tirade against White House staffers during a phone call with The New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza, did he really expect this journalist to keep it to himself?  It was “on the record” and his foul-mouthed remarks were quickly picked up by media outlets everywhere, and spread across social media.  The Mooch called it colorful language and probably thought the story would fade away.

I worked as Director of Communication for a teachers’ union local for a number of years.  I understood that every interaction I had with media was considered “on the record.”  I can’t imagine lacing any conversation with a journalist with profane language.  It would not have been professional and would have reflected poorly on the 35,000 educators I represented in my interactions with the media. 

Another resignation that made headlines recently is that of Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau.  Less than a week after a city police officer shot and killed a woman who called 911 to report a possible assault near here home, the police chief resigned.  There are many unanswered questions about the shooting of Justine Ruszczyk, and this story is not going away anytime soon.  Protestors are calling for the mayor to resign as well. 

Harteau made a major mistake by not addressing this tragedy immediately.  She reportedly was backpacking in an area with poor cell service, and decided to just keep in touch with her staff back in Minneapolis.  Someway, somehow, if you are the person in charge, you take charge.  Satellite phones are a good idea in remote areas.   Or, drive to the closest area where you can do FaceBook Live and get on the record.  In the 24/7 news cycle/viral world, people expect news at a rapid pace.  This is especially true during a crisis.


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