Off the Record

by Dan Ward

In our Message Matrix® training sessions, we tell clients that with very few exceptions, there is no such thing as “off the record.”  What you say can, and will, be used against you in the court of public opinion.

The president found this out last night, when his supposedly “off the record” comments in a CNBC interview (calling Kanye West a jackass), were tweeted by ABC News reporter Terry Moran to his more than a million followers, before later being removed.

I can understand exceptions to the no-such-thing-as-off-the-record rule when it comes to the leader of the free world.  There are certain to be times when the president or members of his staff need to brief reporters in off-the-record sessions about matters of national security.  But how does Kanye West fit in?

Is West secretly a spy for the CIA?  Do his outbursts at awards shows contain secret code about troop positions or security parameters?  There must be a reason why a Presidential declaration that West is a jackass is considered a vital matter of national security.

Certainly it can’t be that the administration was embarrassed by the comment, and later asked ABC News to both remove it and apologize.  For one thing, what the president said was correct … Kanye West did act like a jackass.  For another, an administration that has embraced social media like none before surely knows that a tweet, once posted and shared, can never truly be removed. 

Should Moran have posted information from another reporter’s off-the-record interview?  Probably not.  But off-the-record interviews also should be reserved for more serious discussions than those involving the rants of recording artists.

Instead of asking that our comments remain private, perhaps all of us (the president included) need to remember that everything we say has the potential to come back to us … so the old “think before you speak” rule applies no matter who you are.

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