OPINION

On air, off the cuff

Now that the new government’s honeymoon period is over, it is worth analyzing the behavior of the new ministers and the public image they have projected. Generally, the waning credibility of government officials is not only due to unfulfilled pre-election promises and the fact that the political outcome is often far poorer than the voters had hoped, it is also due to their eagerness to make almost daily appearances on television and radio, opportunities which most abuse. This frequent exposure of politicians on the television and radio is in no way related to the regular encounters a minister should have with the journalists covering his domain. These meetings, which occur in the absence of cameras and microphones, aim to comprehensively inform reporters, often including «off the record» information which helps them assess the news and allows them to act as a channel of communication between the politician and the citizen. Conversely, it is the presenter who decides what the minister is going to talk about when they appear on a television or radio show. And the politician is always «suspended» during these encounters – waiting to respond frankly and without hesitation to the presenter’s questions without any background on the subject and sometimes without observing the confidentiality required in matters of foreign and defense policy. As a result, such appearances become boring… and the politicians’ influence is undermined…