The Popularity of Press Bashing

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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