Minarik Fumbles New York Times Interview
When newly-minted NY State GOP Chairman Stephen Minarik recently announced he would handle media relations himself as a cost-saving measure, it was only a matter of time before a high profile error occurred.
Unfortunately for him, he screwed up right off the bat — with the New York Times no less — when he openly mused to Mike Slackman that he’d like Rudy Giuliani to challenge Hillary Clinton in 2006, had not yet asked him to do so, but planned to do so soon. The GOP Chair didn’t have to follow up and ask Rudy, he’d now done so via the Times; not a great way to do business, nor good protocol for a party leader.
Minarik unwittingly stumbled into making news, and the Giuliani camp’s "what are you smoking?" public rebuff — also through the Times — only made Minarik look worse, and provided a perfect hook to write a "NY GOP is desperate" story. While there is a bit of truth to the premise of this storyline, and would have been written by the Times at some juncture anyway, Minarik prepared the noose and jumped right in.
Is this a huge deal at the end of the day? No — but it’s instructive, and should serve as a wake up call to the former Monroe County GOP Chair. Reporters depend upon interviewees who are either poorly prepared or not prepared at all, who don’t really know the difference between off the record, deep background and background, and who can easily be led down the primrose path to making unintended news.
Handling one’s own press when dealing with reporters in the most aggressive, most sophisticated, most important media market in the world is the worst idea possible. A competent media operation won’t eliminate problems and mistakes by any means, but putting one in place would help prevent episodes like this in which Minarik spent the whole week looking weak and ill prepared.
Yes, Steve Minarik can save money for the NY GOP by handling his own media relations, but the ultimate cost can be losing credibility and few drops of blood in the New York State political shark tank. Very dangerous.