House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough make PR Blunder | Media Training
House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough appeared on all 5 major Sunday morning talk shows this past weekend, also known as a Full Ginsburg (named after Monica Lewinsky’s Lawyer William Ginsburg who was the first to do so back in the 90s). McDonough, as you would expect, is quite an articulate fellow. But he did make one big slip; he accidentally blurted out the first name of a hostage being held by ISIS. No one in the US government or the hostage’s family wanted this known.
Why did McDonough do this? There was no advantage to be gained.
I have to assume it was simply the result of doing 5 pressure-filled, highly scrutinized talk show appearances in just a few hours.
The answer is not as simple as “turn down the other 4 talk shows and just focus on one” as some have suggested. As a public official, you want to reach as many citizens as possible, hence saying ‘no’ to media opportunities is not usually a good strategy.
But when you do so many interviews n a short period of time, your brain can become jumbled. You start to hear the same questions over and over again and you confuse what you said a moment ago versus what you said in a previous interview an hour ago. This is where unclear thinking begins and what I believe happened to McDonough when he accidently blurted out the name of the hostage.
My advice for when you are doing numerous back-to-back interviews? Have your message points and sound bites written down in front of you and re-read them right before each interview as if you were doing the current interview as the first of the day. This provides clarity to the brain and reduces the chances of bad info coming out of your mouth.
If you need help rehearsing for Meet the Press or any other interview, please call TJ Walker and Media Training Worldwide at 212.764.4955