Friday, September 18, 2009


At the end of the day, I’d say Barack Obama actually came out a winner with his off-handed “he’s a jackass” comment about Kanye West’s reprehensible hijacking of Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech at last weekend’s MTV Awards. I think the U.S. President nailed the sentiment of the vast majority of Americans with the brief one-liner. But I must however call a Fumble on the communicator-in-chief, for making such a water-cooler-newsworthy comment – while wired up for a TV interview – and then asking if it could be kept off the record. It’s interesting to note – and, I would say, honourable of them – that CNBC and interviewer John Harwood uttered not a word of comment on Obama’s remark, saying that it was outside of the formal interview and therefore, in their view, off the record. However, a staffer with ABC News, with whom CBNC shares a fibre-optic feed line, saw it differently, and having listened-in, promptly put it online via Twitter and suddenly Obama’s shot was literally heard ‘round the world. Officially, ABC said that was wrong, and subsequently deleted the posts and formally apologized to both the White House and CNBC. Regardless of what the “rules” may be, assumed or otherwise, the lesson for all is clear: the safest approach going into any interview situation is to assume that anything you say – before, during or after the “real” interview – can be reported. Assume that the mic is always live, and that the pen is always on the notepad – especially if you are a public figure in any realm.

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