Don’t touch reporters. Especially when they ask you not to. Twenty-seven times.
Back in May 2010 – shortly before I launched this blog – a media spokesperson created a viral video by responding to a reporter’s questions by repeatedly touching him.
According to SF Weekly, this clip came about when San Francisco ABC 7 reporter Dan Noyes was investigating “alleged misuse of money meant to help ailing patients at Laguna Honda Hospital instead of paying for gourmet perks for administrators.”
Marc Slavin, the hospital’s communications director, is the person you’ll see in the video below. I guess you could say his response was “touching” – but not in the good way. This video is truly astonishing.
Shortly afterwards, Mr. Slavin responded to an inquiry about the incident from SF Weekly. Not only did he fail to apologize, but he actually blamed the reporter for the incident:
“I don’t have much interest in rehashing the exchange with Mr. Noyes. He was intent on disrupting a public meeting rather than scheduling an interview. Even when we did sit down to speak he summarily disregarded our very straightforward presentation of the facts regarding the gift fund accounts. (I’d be happy to send those facts to you as an attachment if you supply your email, or you can find them on lagunahonda.org.)
Mr. Noyes’ disregard for the facts — the clear legality and appropriate use of the funds — resulted in an unfortunate report on the air, which obviously supplied more "gotcha" drama than any legitimate examination of hospital practices. I understand we’re not the first target of Mr. Noyes’ bullying tactics, and likely won’t be the last.”
Perhaps Mr. Slavin is right on the facts. But he ceded every inch of the high ground he could have occupied by responding in such an aggressive, off-putting, and strange manner.
The incident didn’t seem to have much impact. Mr. Slavin is still employed as the hospital’s communications director.
Have the best of the blog delivered to your inbox twice per month! Enter your name in the box on the upper right of the blog to join our mailing list.
Did you miss the 10 worst media disasters of 2011? Click here to catch up!