A leader’s responsibility to talk to the media

At Spacing, John Lorinc writes a brutal open letter to Ford’s press secretary regarding the mayor’s total evasiveness with the media since he took office:

We are told by official sources that Toronto’s mayor is, indeed, Rob Ford. But he is nowhere to be seen, and he says nothing. He will not publicly defend, much less champion, the policy positions that swept him into office, and this despite years of service as an extraordinarily outspoken city councilor who rarely shied away from a microphone or camera. We are forced to run to brother Doug to get a taste of the mayor’s positions. But he’s an unsatisfying and, frankly, unqualified surrogate.

via LORINC: One Question for Adrienne Batra, Mayor Rob Ford’s press secretary « Spacing Toronto.

I touched on this before. I agree fully with Lorinc that Ford’s attitude towards the media is insulting and totally incongruous with his “I’m here for you” public service image. That the Mayor of Toronto has refused to speak with the most widely read newspaper in Toronto since last summer is something that should bother a lot of people.

Still, though, as much as I love Lorinc for writing this, I tend to side more with Rob Granatstein’s view. At this point in Canadian political culture, there does not seem to be a big downside to ducking or avoiding the media. In fact, being elusive allows politicians to better control their message. Similarly, being really open with the media doesn’t seem to lead to great things either: only more scrutiny.

Don’t get me wrong: this is a very sad state of affairs. I wish there was a way to change things. But until there is, I can’t fault Adrienne Batra for playing it this way.