BOSTON (CBS) – Watching Cam Newton, the hopelessly-immature star quarterback of the Carolina Panthers, stalk out of his press conference Wednesday in a huff because he didn’t like a softball question some sportswriter threw at him, was yet another reminder of how often alleged adults in public life can’t seem to handle what should be a simple task – answering questions from reporters.
For sports figures like Newton and David Price, the Red Sox pitcher who made a fool of himself hassling sportscaster Dennis Eckersley this summer, it’s a case of super-sized egos run amok.
With politicians, it’s often more complicated.
Some are naturals at handling a press conference. Former Gov. Bill Weld would show up at his daily availability, hair still wet from his post-squash game shower, and handle all comers with as close to wit as you’re going to get on Beacon Hill.
President Trump isn’t especially witty, but he’s a master at handling a reporter scrum, answering questions the way he wants to and effectively playing to his base the entire time. (And at least he talks to reporters on an impromptu basis, which is more than you can say about his predecessor.)
Most politicians I’m sure would just as soon never talk to the press, but they have to in order to get their name and message out.
And if they would just follow a few simple rules, there’s no reason why it ever has to be a negative experience.
First, don’t run away or hide from questions.
That makes you look like you’re running away and hiding.
Second, if you don’t know an answer, just say “I don’t know.”
And third, don’t look at us when we get the drop on you, look at your colleagues.
Half the time, they’re the ones dropping the dime on you.