Here’s some free PR advice from a guy who’s been either a reporter or a public relations professional for 34 years: No matter how much you like a reporter, no matter how charming, how funny, how complimentary, he/she is NOT your buddy. Not if he’s any good. Nothing is “off the record” even if he/she says it is. Nearly every train wreck I’ve seen goes back to the one mistake of assuming the reporter’s job is to make you look good. It isn’t, and it shouldn’t be. If you’re tempted to do something, or say something, that you’re not willing to read on tomorrow’s front page, SHUT UP!!! I’ve seen an auctioneer pull a bottle of Jack Daniel’s out of a desk drawer with a WSJ reporter sitting there. I’ve seen a corporate executive, with a couple of drinks in him, tell a roomful of national reporters about an impending acquisition that wasn’t done yet. (If you don’t, know, the SEC takes a very dim view of this and will happily toss you in the slammer for creating insider trading opportunities.)
Yes, of course, I’m talking about the Gen. Stanley McChrystal comments for Rolling Stone. What was he thinking, drinking or smoking? Your guess is good as mine. But in my experience, a reporter you like a little too much is every bit as seductive and dangerous as a beautiful woman with whom you have no business being alone.