Recently Stabroek News canvassed the views of a number of my colleagues in the media about the fact that the President has held two Press Conferences since being elected to office. They all, some more circumspect than others, bemoaned this practice. After all, it is certainly a departure from the norm. I wonder, however, whether our President, who is an exceedingly intelligent man but not a traditional politician, has given a thought to the fact that any political leader in a democracy is putting himself or herself at huge risk, if not prescribing his or her own political demise, by isolating himself or herself from the media and, I believe, ultimately, from the people.
Never mind what the journalists think about it but what does the President think about it. What do his colleagues in the Cabinet think about a President, their President, who, to all intents and purposes, has decided to ignore holding formal scheduled conferences with the press?
Surely, Mr. President, you are my President too, and I am a former journalist and a consultant in public relations, you realize that the media every day of every week of every month throughout your tenure communicate with a high percentage of the population and what they cover is usually regurgitated on social media. Yet, Mr. President, you choose to ignore this reality. Yes, Mr. President, you do so at your own peril and will inevitably and ultimately pay the price.
I have to assume that our President reads the press or someone culls it for him. He now heads a nation which is about to be the richest per capita in the world, but the media, without exception, reflects the view that he and his government are woefully unprepared to get a fair share of the coin which will flow for his people.
The Stabroek News Editorial of 6th August, 2018, on the appointment of Dr. Mark Bynoe could not be more bluntly condemnatory of our President’s government’s confused approach to managing our new riches.
When I lecture on PR, I often quote Abraham Lincoln, who said in 1858, “He who molds public opinion goes deeper than he who enacts statutes or pronounces decisions. He makes statutes and decisions possible or impossible to be executed”.
What Lincoln said then is as profound today and a thousand times more. We live in an information age. Mr. President, if I were your PR Consultant I would be tempted to commit hari-kari but, then again, I am not. Merely a humble citizen concerned for my President and concerned for my country.