Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Speaker Prospero Nograles, Secretary Cerge Remonde and Attorney Romulo Macalintal may be interested about a few words from former US President Richard Nixon on how to deal with the press, as reported in an old copy of Time Magazine I had recently unearthed from my baul. Nixon should know the subject very well, after more than 40 years of a love-hate relationship with media. It should also be a reminder to these gents that the media is the Fourth Estate, meaning, the fourth branch of government, and among its functions is to report how government people behave - and dine in public places.

I have chosen the following Nixon quotes which should be of interest to Boy, Cerge and Romy, and to every Tom, Dick and Harry in public office for that matter: Nixon says, "One tactic that should be used only sparingly is for a public official who has been attacked by the press to counter-attack. He may win in the short run, but in the long run, the press has the last word and they will never forgive him for taking them on. This does not mean he should take their barbs lying down or that he should go crawling after them to win their support. It does mean that he should give as good as he receives, but in a manner that will not expose him to the charge that he is taking on the press to divert attention from his own vulnerabilities."

"Based on 44 years of dealing with media on the national level, I can say they are above average in intelligence. They are proud of their profession and sometimes find it difficult to hide their contempt for the less-educated politicians and businessmen they cover. Many believe they are underpaid compared to the lobbyists and PR flacks who rip off their employers so shamelessly. Finally, most are interesting people. An off-the-record session with a group of top-notch reporters can be far more stimulating and informative than with a meeting with a group of senators and congressmen."

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