Postman on Politics
Chief political reporter David Postman explores state, regional and national politics.
November 26, 2007 4:04 PM
Posted by David Postman
The editor of The Columbian had a column over the weekend showing readers what it can be like to deal with the governor's press office. Lou Brancaccio wrote that his reporters were looking to get a comment from Gregoire about an investigation they had done into problems with local child care providers. In a column written as a letter to Gregoire, Brancaccio writes:
Erin Middlewood and Stephanie Rice -- our reporters who labored over this excellent series -- tried three times to get in touch with you.
At one point we received this e-mail from your press secretary, Lars Erickson:
"We've completely scheduled all of the governor's media interview time for the next month."
That was before the package of investigative stories, dubbed "Daycare Nightmare," was published. After publication, Brancaccio tried himself, talking with Interim Communications Director Lloyd Brown. He says Brown "wasn't all that happy with our quoting him. Especially after he said you wouldn't talk because our investigation would make you look like you have been 'asleep at the wheel.'"
The Columbian got to talk to Gregoire, just hours after the editor told Brown to let the governor know he would "bring the hammer down" on her for refusing to talk.
(But Lou, you're not really surprised that a "statement from the governor" wasn't really written by the governor, are you?)
You can see The Columbian's reporting project here.
There are many more reasons for the governor to talk to The Columbian than to not. Here's just one: Dino Rossi talked to the paper about the child care investigation and got his name into a headline.
And he issued a press release knocking Gregoire -- not just for what's happening with child care, but for not talking to the paper.
"This story also repeats a pattern of the incumbent â€" she takes credit for good things even if she had no part in them but hides herself from public view when problems are revealed within her government agencies," said Rossi.
I wrote recently about Rossi's refusal to be interviewed about a subject because it wasn't one of his chosen campaign themes. I said that at least Gregoire faces the press regularly at her media availabilities. But The Columbian's investigation is not the sort of thing a reporter wants to ask about in that setting. You don't want to give away an exclusive.
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