Today, a further look at the top-secret guidebook given to each and every one of Parliament Hill’s 105 rookie MPs.
In this installment, excerpts from the guidebook’s tips on handling the media.
As you make your way through the wonder of your first federal political term, you will find there are times when you are inevitably faced with the scrutiny of our friends in the media. These tips will help you survive these encounters, perhaps even find them enjoyable.
Be cordial. Smile. Offer them a mini-Toblerone from your jacket pocket. DO NOT offer them a mini-Toblerone from your PANTS pocket.
Compliment a reporter on past work. “I really enjoyed your piece on the budgetary fallout from the (insert applicable subject matter here). It read just like a chapter from All The President’s Men!“, can go a long way toward blinding a journalist to your simmering disdain for them and their entire lot.
Dangle the possibility of a patronage appointment. Say something like: “Damn if you don’t remind me of a young Pamela Wallin. If you wore more leopard prints, I’d swear you were already a senator!”
When faced with a situation in which you do not under any circumstances wish to comment, DO NOT say “no comment.” “No comment” now actually means “you got me,” or, “you know more than I do at this point,” or, “I didn’t know I couldn’t use government stationary to prank my university buddy into thinking he was being audited over his distribution of campus weed.”
Instead, offer up one of these newly-minted phrases designed to avoid a straight answer:
1. “Good question. It’s one I’d certainly like to hear answered by the Honourable Member from South Simcoe-Dunder-Mifflin-Galt. They certainly have some explaining to do.” Then duck out the nearest door while the reporter pulls out their blackberry to find out who that is.
2. “Answer a question? Here? Now? What are you, from the Stone Age? Check my Twitter feed.”
3. “Look! Rick Mercer and a camera crew just followed Rona Ambrose into the ladies’ room!”
If being interviewed by Rex Murphy, do not look directly at him. He WILL hypnotize you. Usually, it’s just to get a straight answer. But he has been known to make the occasional rookie MP behave like they are the Minister of Silly Walks for an entire day, just for his own enjoyment.
An appearance on “Power & Politics” may be in the offing, at some point. If so, be sure not to tell CBC’s Evan Solomon that he’s “kinda like the journalism version of Doogie Howser.” He’s actually much older than he looks.
Conservative rookies are reminded NOT to greet members of SunMedia with the secret handshake, in public. A healthy slap on the back and a rousing “dude” will suffice.
NDP rookies are reminded NOT to greet members of the Toronto Star with the secret handshake, in public. A nurturing hug and a whispered “friend” will suffice.
Liberal and Bloc rookies: You are instructed NOT to greet ANYONE with any handshake of any kind, as you may still be contagious.
rookies arerookie is reminded not to greet members of High Times with the secret handshake, in public. They won’t remember it, anyway.
Although it may be difficult not to, please remember that napping during an appearance on CTV’s “Question Period” is not actually acceptable for anyone other than Craig Oliver.
Avoid scrums, if possible, at all times. A group of Parliament Hill reporters will often take on the dynamic of the diseased victims in the “Resident Evil” film franchise. Although they will not eat the flesh of veteran politicians, you, as a rookie are susceptible, as your skin has not yet built up protective layers of cynicism and bitterness. Seriously, you’ll be like veal to these people.
Enjoy your relationship with Parliament Hill media! However, do everything humanly possible to sidestep an encounter with Chantal Hebert. She’s smarter than you. She’s smarter than all of us. Beware.
[box]Previously: Rookie Mp Guidebook Part 1[/box]
[box border=”full”]Next: Rookie MP Guidebook Part 3[/box]