Why Won’t Governor Rell Talk To Reporters?

Is Governor Rell done taking serious  questions from reporters in 2009?     Today at a homecoming ceremony for National Guardsmen and women, Channel 3′s Heather Hegedus was asked if she wanted to talk to the Governor.   Heather said yes, and she told me one of the Governor’s aides  told Heather “only if you ask about the troops, nothing else.”   

Yesterday at a holiday media gathering at the Governor’s office, Channel 3′s Susan Raff asked to talk to the Governor about the sex offender treatment facility.   “Not today ,”  she was told by Chief of Staff Lisa Moody.  Moody then showed Susan some convulated paperwork as she disputed claims by Democrats about the Governor’s budget cuts.   Susan said “why don’t I just talk to the Governor, she is right over there?”   “No,” Susan was told.  “Not today.”   Susan is now wondering, “when?” 

As we reported before, Susan put in a request to talk to the Governor back on November 25th.    The state is in a budget crisis and the Governor should be taking questionsfrom reporters about the serious issues facing the state.  

I know Channel 3 Eyewitness News is not the only organization that would like to see the Governor’s handlers allow her to hold a news conference and take questions from reporters.   Voters, our viewers, want to hear from the Governor, not hear from our reporters reading an excerpt from a news release from her office.

Journal Inquirer reporter Keith Phaneuf called Governor Rell “the most tightly managed governor” he’s ever covered.      Seems the reins are being pulled in even more during the holiday season.

We’ ve talked about this issue before and it doesn’t seem to be improving:http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2009/12/04/fedele-says-he-will-be-more-media-friendly-than-rell/

Let me add that I like the Governor personally, and I have written about this before.    I  even emceed her inaugural ball.    The Governor also does a very good job in on-camera interviews, so I find it hard to believe it is her decision to not  be on television more often.   The Governor seemed very comfortable on Face the State when she was in here in February.  

However,   I will say I am disappointed the Governor (or her people)  has never taken us up on our regular invitations to join us for the entire half hour of Face the State, and has only appeared on the program once (this February)  since being sworn in back in July 2004.  

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6 Responses

  1. Dennis,

    Thanks very much for this post, because it speaks to the frustration that many in the media feel about getting information from this administration. Here’s a recent post about this…which includes links to an article the Advocate did about Governor Rell not appearing on Where We Live to take calls from listeners. Every other statewide office holder…all commissioners we’ve asked…the entire delegation…they’ve all been on to do this. Not the Governor.

    Keep up the good work, Dennis…and when you get a chance to talk to her…let us know! jd
    http://whereweblog.wordpress.com/2009/12/16/sending-requests-into-the-ether/

    • John,
      Thanks for writing in and I’m not surprised you have had similar problems with access to Governor Rell. In fact, I think this should be an issue in the 2010 campaign as the state chooses a new governor. Will the next chief executive continue the Rell media policies?

      I enjoy your program and I hope Governor Rell realizes “Where We Live” is where she should be!

  2. [...] asks: Is Rell done taking serious questions from reporters in 2009? Jump to Comments Rick Green at the Hartford Courant lends a holiday helping hand to Where We Live and Dennis House at Channel 3 in our quest to have a substantive, long-form [...]

  3. Dennis,

    I watched your show yesterday (I always catch it on Sundays), and of course tonight. I felt bad for Katy when she was standing out there in the freezing weather doing her report and for her to say the Gov. had left the building! Very good thing she isn’t going to be Gov. again. I’m sure if Gov. Grasso was still around, she’d only be too happy to be on camera with any of you. Not sure what game Ms. Rell is doing, but it’s not a friendly one. Let’s see, no budget, no on camera reports?? What is she afraid of? Is she hiding something?

  4. [...] Our quest to have a long form interview with the governor is similar to WNPR’s  in terms of frustration.   Only once has the governor appeared on Face the State, and her handlers made it clear to me  before hand that she would not stay the whole half hour, only 10 minutes.    I pushed it to 13 minutes.  That was February of 2009.        More on that here:  http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2009/12/23/governor-rell-continues-to-freeze-out-reporters/ [...]

  5. It is actually an incredible case study about how public officials work to control their image by limiting contact outside of very structured settings.

    From and academic standpoint your blog is a must read to understand how Rell managed to keep her “favorability rating” so high while driving the State off the road and into a ditch.

    The Rell Administration deserves “tremendous credit” for allowing the Legislature to accept all the blame for the fiscal debacle – when in fact – it was really an extraordinary team effort.

    The factors leading to her success include the overall lack of real access by the media combined with her unique ability to provide non-answers or false answers and to be fortunate enough not to have a lot of push back on those answers for much of her tenure in office.

    I wonder what would have a happened if there had been a coordinated effort by the media to raise this particular issue. Would the Rell/Moody Team taken the hit or worked to prep her to actually go a half hour.

    We’ll never know….

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