The Court of Public Opinion

Media interview update
I had the pleasure of being on CBC's 'The Current' this morning discussing re-branding of political parties - in this case the question was: Should the NDP change their name to the 'Democratic' Party?
See what you think of the discussion:

Racing update!
By now you may have heard that the heavily-favored 'Muscle Hill' won the Hambletonian race yesterday in East Rutherford NJ! Congratulations to brother-in-law trainer (and media trainer!) Greg Peck who, as it turned out had an unbelievably successful day - winning not only the most prestigious race in the harness racing world, but the Peter Houghton Memorial race earlier in the day with 'Holiday Road'. Congratulations Greg!

Hillary's 'Rage in Kenya'
check out how not to handle a question, when the Secretary of State takes offense at the question in a town hall meeting in Kenya:

Welcome back!
Check out the Hambletonian race this afternoon at 4:00 EST - it's the ultimate race in the world of harness racing. As you will see in this article in today's New York Times, my brother-in-law Greg Peck, is the trainer for Muscle Hill, the favorite in the race. Greg graciously credits yours truly for giving him his break in the media training business, and makes an interesting comparison between reading the body language of horses and executives. Check it out on http:www.nytimes.com 'Teaching is Full-Time Job for Trainer of Top Trotter'by Bill Finley. Don't forget to tune in this afternoon on NBC Sports at 3:30 when Greg will be interviewed.

Tune into CBC Radio One on Monday, August 10th

Speaking of media interviews, I will be on CBC Radio One's The Current on Monday morning at 8:30 a.m. EST, talking about 'branding' political parties - particularly the NDP which is considering re-naming itself the 'Democratic' Party.

Winning in Court vs. Winning in the Court of Public Opinion

For those who have been following this blog and the Canadian media, you know by now that my client, Mayor Larry O'Brien of Ottawa, was found 'not guilty' on two counts of influence peddling regarding the 2006 Mayor's Race in Ottawa. The Hon. Justice Douglas Cunningham rendered a verdict that was so unequivocal, it can only be seen as a complete vindication.

What I found interesting as always, was the media coverage and comportment by reporters. The 'scrum' at the courthouse steps was the largest, apparently, in the history of the court. As one right in the middle of it, it was loud, and jam-packed, but generally well-behaved.

The Mayor, after maintaining a stoic silence throughout the two and a half month trial, finally spoke, giving his statement, which was heart-felt and without a script and spoke of the burden that one's family has to endure when hit with a barrage of over 43 front-page stories, fed by innuendo, half-truths and leaked documents.

Observations on Handling Media During a Trial

From my experience as Mayor O'Brien's media consultant during the trial, I would conclude with the following observations:

1. If you want to fight back, be prepared for a long-term, at-times brutal battle - not just in court, but in the media - trying to determine what actually happened. If you don't have the stomach for it, don't do it. But as Mr. O'Brien said, "if you're right, you fight."

2. Even though you may not like all that the media report, treat reporters, producers and editors with respect. You usually get back the treatment you deserve. I found the media coverage of the trial itself very fair and balanced. Leading up to the trial, that was not always the case, but once it got underway, reporters were highly professional in their coverage. We gave interviews to all the media that asked,immediately following the trial. Only one network correspondent acted a bit like a goon. He didn't ask for an interview, and instead satisfied himself by following the Mayor and yours truly down the lane, screaming at the top of his considerable lungs. So guess what? His was the only network that didn't get an interview. Maybe he thinks that's good journalism.

3. If you're the media consultant, make it your business to read what they write and comment, and give them your comments in a respectful way. I did that regularly - when I felt they got something wrong, or had a strange (in my view) slant on testimony. Be prepared for them to label that as 'spin' but that's the price you pay for fighting for balanced coverage.

4. Don't fight your battles in the media while the trial is underway. Although this was not a jury trial, the last thing the judge wants to read or hear is your client expounding on evidence as the trial is underway. So, for the most part, 'less is more'.

5. Finally, the court of public opinion will ultimately decide the fate of politicians. But it sure does feel good to win in court as well!

Until next time....I hope summer is (finally) being good to you!

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