It used to be a good idea to avoid the press – because in the dear old days of King George, The Press was a gang of sailors under a petty officer who would sweep through a town or village and legally kidnap the poor or unprovided into slavery aboard a British warship. They were not above scouring foreign lands and other nation’s merchant shipping for this purpose – thus bringing upon themselves more wars than were strictly necessary.
Then the Fourth Estate – the venal journalists – took over as the press. They left you on shore but savaged your reputation so much that you might just as well have been at sea. And not just the Brits this time – read Dickens’ encounters with US journalists in the 1860’s. And look at what they get up to now.
Most of us will never Meet The Press, as it were. We live lives of such meek tenor that nothing can be squeezed from us. We cannot be made to yield a sound bite, let alone a 5-minute segment. In this we are very lucky – we share that good fortune with the very rich and the very powerful. They can avoid the press but it costs them a great deal of money and effort.
But what do we do if someone pops up in front of us wearing a microphone and a Hammerhead grin an asks us what we think of what they want to pretend we just saw? How can we blend into the bark of the trees if we are standing in a shopping mall? What is ninja secret?
a. Ask the interviewer if they realise that they are racist or sexist in their questioning. These two trigger words will make them sweat at the hair roots and they will beetle off directly.
b. Blame Donald Trump or Hilary Clinton. Even if you have just been asked about a crash at a roundabout in Redcliffe, calling in the old favourites like that will give the interviewer a chance to go off their face. And there is an even chance that either Donald or Hilary will admit guilt…
c. Ask for compensation. Have a figure ready to hand – $ 15,000 is always a good starting point. Refuse to tell what really happened until they cough up.
d. Point over to the edge of the crowd and shout “ Oh, look! It’s the Duchess and a koala! “ No reporter worth their salt will stick to you.