Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Governor's Joke Bombs- When NOT to Play the "Funny" Card

Governor Paul LePage is not a fan of the media in his state.

While visiting a Pratt & Whitney defense plant in Maine (along with Senator Susan Collins and other politicians) the Governor was plopped into a flight simulator for the F-35 Lightning II - a fighter aircraft to be used by U.S. military.

According to AP, an official showing LePage how the simulator works asked him what he wanted to blow up.  The posted video below may start after that comment, however, with the Governor chuckling and saying: "I want to find the Portland Press Herald building and blow it up."

The Press Herald and others were quick to take offense even asking the local FBI rep for his reaction.  And the Governor's spokeswoman had to point out the obvious that LePage was joking.

We were struck by a quote from Laura Cassella, a Pratt &Whitney "communications specialist" who threw the Governor under the bus -- or fighter perhaps.  She said no one from the company heard the governor state his desire to bomb the Press Herald and "If he did, that's not something we would echo," she said.

The media have a notoriously thin skin and jokes like LePage's are inevitably going to land with a thud.  Worse for him -- one of his goals during the visit was to encourage Lockheed Martin -- the defense firm which builds the F-35 to co-locate in Maine near the Pratt & Whitney plant that makes engine parts.  The joke took him off message.

While the media's sense of humor is suspect -- we would have encouraged P&W spokesperson Cassella to lighten up.  A better course for her would have been to fly cover for the Governor and say something like:  "I'm sure, if the Governor said something like that, he was only joking. We welcome his interest in Pratt & Whitney and enjoy a great relationship with all the state's political leadership and news organizations."

-From 15 Seconds Blog

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