This Post May Be Too Complex For You

Written by Brad Phillips @MrMediaTraining on August 28, 2013 – 8:22 pm

When North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory spoke to an Asheville business group on Monday, he decided to take a shot at the journalists who cover state government.

Defending his economic record to the Council of Independent Business Owners, Mr. McCrory made the following comment, which provoked laughter from the friendly crowd:

“This is too complex for the journalists. They don’t have economics degrees. They’ve not been in business.”

Pat McCrory

That’s the type of unextraordinary anti-media comment politicians make all the time. They’re pieces of red meat that serve as reliable crowd pleasers, particularly for conservative politicians who score points with audiences for running against the mainstream media.

But in this case, a local political reporter decided to get the last laugh. Mark Binker, a reporter for Raleigh-Durham’s WRAL, wrote a cheeky piece for the @NCCapitol website titled “This post may be ‘too complex’ for us to write.” 

Binker waits until his closing lines to exact his full revenge against Governor McCrory:

“It may be worth noting that McCrory’s campaign website says he graduated from ‘Catawba College in Rowan County, where he earned degrees in Education and Political Science.’ There’s no mention of an economics degree.”

Ouch. So, is it a bad idea to knock the media in this manner?

Yes and no. As I’ve written before, the expression “Never argue with a man who buys ink by the barrel” no longer fully applies in the age of social media. Today’s politicians are less dependent on the mainstream press than their predecessors, and can reach their audiences using alternative communications channels.

That’s not to suggest that picking gratuitous fights with the press is wise strategy, but I’d still modify that old expression to “Think hard before arguing with a man who buys ink by the barrel.”

If McCrory made these comments as part of a pre-planned and deliberate messaging strategy, it may have been worth the risk. But if these lines were improvised, he earned a small bit of embarrassing press he could have easily avoided.

A grateful tip of the hat to reader Mike Radionchenko; photo credits Hal Goodtree, Capitol Broadcasting Company

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  • About Mr. Media Training

    The Mr. Media Training Blog offers daily tips to help readers become better media spokespersons and public speakers. It also examines how well (or poorly) public figures are communicating through the media.

    Brad Phillips is the Founder and Managing Editor of the Mr. Media Training Blog. He is the president of Phillips Media Relations, a media and presentation training firm with offices in NYC and DC.

    Brad Phillips

    Before founding Phillips Media Relations in 2004, Brad worked as a journalist with ABC's Nightline with Ted Koppel and CNN's Reliable Sources and The Capital Gang.

    Brad tweets at @MrMediaTraining.

    Christina Mozaffari is the Senior Writer for the Mr. Media Training Blog. She is the Washington, D.C. vice president for Phillips Media Relations.

    Brad Phillips

    Before joining Phillips Media Relations in 2011, Christina worked as a journalist with NBC News, where she produced stories for MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews, NBC Nightly News, and The Today Show.

    Christina tweets at @PMRChristina.

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