A quick lesson in media relations from the office of Vice President Joe Biden: try to be nice to reporters whenever possible–and if you do decide to be difficult, make sure you’re justified or you might embarrass yourself.
Today the VP’s office issued an official apology for “bullying” (not our word of choice) a student reporter at a press event. In summary: Biden, attorney general Eric Holder and Maryland Senator Ben Cardin called a press conference to announce a new domestic violence prevention initiative. A reporter for Capital Press, who also happens to be a student at the University of Maryland, accidentally sat in a section of the room that was not reserved for media and took photos of Biden as he spoke.
After the event, a member of Biden’s press staff spoke to the reporter and demanded to watch as he deleted the (supposedly) forbidden photos. Scandal!
The student assumed “that [the staffer] was following proper procedures”, but Lucy Dalgslish, dean of the journalism school, disagreed and filed a formal complaint with Biden’s office.
A Biden spokeswoman apologized to the dean and explained the mix-up to The Washington Post:
“…all of our open press events are open press even if a reporter is not in the designated press area. This was an unfortunate mistake by a staffer who does not regularly interact with the press.”
The lesson here is very basic, but it bears repeating: If there’s ever a chance that you might have to deal with us awful media folk, make sure you understand both parties’ official policies. Otherwise you might have to deal with a small but completely unnecessary PR headache. And your boss won’t be too happy with you, either.
(Photo courtesy of Tiffany Arnold, Germantown Patch)