Fedele Vows to be more Media Friendly than Rell

I would bet there isn’t a reporter in the state who doesn’t like Governor Rell, but I would also bet there isn’t a reporter in the state who likes the way she deals with the media. After talking with several reporters, we all agree Governor Rell has been the least media accessible governor in at least a quarter of a century.   All agreed Governors O’Neill, Weicker and Rowland granted more interviews and were more accessible than the current Governor. Channel 3’s Al Terzi, our only staffer who covered Governor Grasso in the 1970s, said he even recalls she, too being more media friendly than Governor Rell.   

Case in point: Wednesday, November 25th, the day  Governor Rell released a statement calling for massive cuts as part of a budget mitigation effort.   Serious stuff.   Channel 3’s Susan Raff asked to interview the Governor.   She was told no, even though we were also told the governor was in her office, steps from where Susan was waiting with a photographer.   Instead  Susan was given Robert Genuario, the Governor’s budget chief.   

As of the writing of this blog, that was 9 days ago, and still the Governor has not granted Susan’s request for an on camera interview, or held a news conference so reporters can ask her about these cuts.   Journal Inquirer reporter Keith Phaneuf called Governor Rell the most tightly managed governor he’s covered, and says her staff’s practice of communicating through press releases leads to confusion and lack of information.

It’s been difficult to cover Governor Rell and to bring information to the viewers about their government. Two years ago, we asked to interview the Governor on the night of a big winter storm that created gridlock across Metro Hartford.   Earlier in the day the only way we could hear from the Governor was by phone because the car she was in was stuck in traffic.    Later, when the Governor had arrived at the State Capitol we fully expected to be able to interview the Governor in person.  We were told the Governor would only talk to us on the phone even though she was in her office and our crew was on the Capitol grounds.  It seemed silly.  This is 21st century television.   There was no good reason the Governor couldn’t talk to us on camera, but could talk to us on the telephone.   We declined the phone offer because how could we possibly explain this method of communication to our viewers?    

 I wrote about this issue in December of 2007.    Here is an excerpt from my blog:

On Friday, Channel 3’s Len Besthoff filed a report about the state’s handing of Winter Storm Alexander. We received many e-mails and calls from disgrunted viewers who sat in traffic for hours on Thursday. Many blamed the state government and Governor Rell. As the state’s top elected official we wanted to interview the Governor about the storm traffic and the state’s planning for it. On Friday, Len was offered a “media availability” with the Governor, but was then asked what he would ask the Governor. He was told he could ask about Saturday’s impending storm. Len said he wanted to ask about Thursday. He was told “no” and the availability was cancelled. With that restriction, we would have cancelled the interview anyway, and told you why we did that. Many who don’t understand journalism might have said “so what, just ask about Saturday, she is after all the governor.” That’s not what we do. When we agree to conditions and limitations of an interview, we compromise our integrity. We fail you, the viewer. Conditions of time, locations and details like that are understandable, but to have someone else, particularly an official elected by you: the public citizen, define our line of questioning, is unacceptable.

During tonight’s taping of Face the State Phanuef and I asked the governor’s right hand man,  Lt. Governor Michael Fedele if he will continue the Rell administration’s avoidance of the media.   In respect to why the Governor hasn’t had a news conference to ask reporters’ questions about last week’s budget cuts, I asked Fedele this:  Should the citizens be seeing their governor in these trying times?    Fedele’s response: “ I can tell you if  Mike Fedele is elected they will be hearing from me even in non-trying times.”

You can watch the entire interview with Lt. Governor Fedele this Sunday at 11AM on Channel 3.

Categories: Uncategorized

5 replies »

  1. I grew up belng able to see Gov. Grasso, and Weichart, I think I remember Gov. Oneil, but not too sure on that one. Yet, they were on the T.V. doing interviews, I don’t remember that there were a time in which they would have said ‘no’ since they were elected by the people therefore why wouldn’t they want people to know what was going on, what they thought. I remember that snowstorm two years ago, it was then I knew I was back ‘home’ living in my home state agaiin.


  2. Gov. Rell is very accessible to the radio talk show who are friendly with her on the air. She love the banter and some of the silliness. I mind that she left CT for the holidays without speaking with your station (as mention on a newscast), after recommending cutting funds for municipalities. We have a right to know why the governor is choosing something that would decrease municipal services or increase property taxes. Her actions, like avoiding news reporters but talking with DJs, shows she loves being a ceremonial figurehead, but does not have the will for effective governing during difficult times.


  3. I just want to make sure that I understand this right. Gov. Rell will talk to DJ’s because they cause silliness, yet she won’t she won’t talk to newcasters because of it? I’ve seen plenty of silliness go on with network newscasters who will slip up, who will kid one another from time to time, but they will not make fun of policticians including the Gov. of the state. They are to be held up and if there is to be silliness then the Gov. has to bring it on first. If a newscaster does anything like that, they will get all kinds of letters not just from viewers but even from their bosses.


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