Gini Dietrich

There is No Such Thing as Off-the-Record

By: Gini Dietrich | August 1, 2013 | 

There is No Such Thing as Off-the-RecordBy Gini Dietrich

By now you’ve probably heard about Anthony Weiner’s communications director going off the rails.

I’m not going to repeat here what she said, but let’s just say she called a former intern some really awful names. And, if that weren’t enough, she did so while talking with a journalist.

The story goes like this: A former intern wrote an article for the New York Daily News about the inner workings of the Weiner campaign. In it, she described how most interns work for Weiner simply to get to know his wife (whose boss is Hillary Clinton) in hopes of making it on to the 2016 Presidential campaign, should Clinton run.

She goes on to describe the “short resumes” of many of the staff members, including communications director Barbara Morgan. Talking Points Memo called Morgan to discuss the Daily News article and that’s when she went on a profanity-laced tirade against the intern, calling her every name in the book and some made up ones, too.

When Jill Colvin, the senior political reporter at the New York Observer called Morgan to find out why she reacted the way she did, Morgan said, “I thought it was an off-the-record conversation.”

You can read about it on Gawker by clicking here.

No Such Thing as Off-the-Record

Here’s where I have a problem: You are the communications director. I don’t care if your resume is short. You, of all people, should know there is no such thing as an off-the-record conversation.

Even if you have a verbal agreement from a journalist that they won’t print what you’ve said (and I’ve never met a journalist who will agree to that), they can always print what you said as an anonymous informant or pieces of what you said – maybe unwittingly so – can very easily come through in other pieces he or she will write.

When we do media training for clients, this is the one thing we drill into their heads over and over and over again. There is no such thing as off-the-record.

Here’s the problem: As soon as you lean in and say to a journalist, “I’m going to tell you something, but it’s off-the record,” they know you’re about to give them something really juicy.

The unethical ones will keep silent or grin slightly as if to say, “Okay, we have a deal” so you’ll spill the beans. The ethical ones will tell you nothing is off-the-record, but cross all their fingers and toes in hopes you’ll still tell them what you have to say.

Think about it from your own perspective. If you have a friend who says, “I have to tell you something, but you can’t tell anyone,” what is the very first thing you want to do? It’s freaking human nature. We want to tell the whole world. Of course, some of us don’t, but that urge is really hard to fight.

A Former Client Experience

Early in my career, I worked on The Catfish Institute account. In fact, that account was a huge coup for me in my career because their president at the time is a lifelong friend of mine and I am the one who secured the multi-year, multi-million dollar business for the agency.

So, of course, I had carte blanche in dealings with the clients, including sitting in extremely high-level strategy sessions that I, at all of 26 years old, had no business being in.

About a year into working with them, I gained a valuable experience.

An Asian country was dumping catfish into the United States and calling it U.S. farm-raised. It was a really big deal and it required senior-level expertise from our office, the headquarters office in St. Louis, and the Washington, D.C. office.

I received a year-long education in lobbying and regulatory affairs while we worked hard to get the government to put a stop to this.

During the process, “60 Minutes” – which was to be the pinnacle of my career – wanted to do a story about catfish farming, how to prepare the flaky white fish, and what farmers were doing about the bottom-dwelling, bottom-feeding creatures to make them more appealing to Americans.

We called in the big guns for this one. I can’t remember how much it cost for three days of media training, but I’d venture to guess it was more than $50,000. During those three days, we prepared the president and the chairman of the board for every possible question.

We had one missive: Don’t talk about the catfish dumping.

You see, we weren’t prepared to discuss it and it was still very highly confidential, even though we were working hard in Washington.

The interview went spectacularly well. The TV crews, producers, and on-camera talent spent a few days in Mississippi. They talked to catfish farmers. They fed the catfish. They ate the catfish. They lived and breathed the catfish.

The interview was over and we were about 15 minutes away from celebrating. We were in The Catfish Farmer offices and the chairman of the board and the president walked the producer and one of the cameramen to the front door.

To this day, I don’t know which one of them said it, but the words, “We’re so glad you didn’t ask us about the Asians dumping catfish into the U.S.” came out of someone’s mouth.

The cameras were packed up. The microphones were put away. The on-camera talent was safely tucked in the car to go back to the airport.

Guess what the story was about?

Three glorious days of filming a story with incredible interviews, beauty shots, and even catfish that cooperated. And the story ended up being about the Asian country that was dumping catfish into the United States.

There is no such thing as off-the-record.

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • While I agree it’s rare for anything to remain “off the record” – especially these days! – and I think the communications director was using that as a lame excuse (as if there is *any* excuse for the foulness with which she attacked her former intern) – I know from experience that many journalists will do ‘off the record’ stuff. Now, it’s not a totally altruistic act – obviously the old “you scratch my back I’ll scratch yours” line is at play. A journalist, for example, who is building relationships with informants or high level players may do an “off the record” – but they do it to curry favours. I’ll protect you this time, and not spill the beans on what you just told me “off the record” – BUT – I better be the one you call first the next time you have something juicy to share. So, it’s a matter of trust. You need to know who you can trust, and always be aware, as you mentioned, that your “off the record” comment just may get leaked in some shape or form.

    • belllindsay That may be – and you and I definitely have different experiences with this, coming from different sides – but I would never recommend a client tell a journalist anything that was confidential in hopes of currying a favor. I know it happens a lot, particularly in investigative reporting, but in the work we do? No way, no how, don’t do it.
      My point is this: Every communications professional knows this. To go off the rails like this woman did and then say she thought it was off-the-record is totally bunk.

      • ginidietrich Oh, 100% – never mind that she sounds like a bonafide NUTJOB! As a communications pro, it’s your job to PROTECT – not share – the juicy bits. 😉

    • belllindsay I agree. I used to be a press secretary for a politician and there were indeed times I could share things “off the record” with reporters I trusted. I’d give them some background behind a statement we issued to help them understand the context better, or I’d give them stuff that was “not for attribution.” But yeah, the Catfish story and the Weiner stories definitely were not the time and place for that sort of thing.

  • My mantra is: Nothing’s private.  IF the Comm Director wanted to vent like this, she should have done it to a FRIEND, at home… but still, she sounds exactly like the intern described the entire campaign.

    • AmyMccTobin As my dad always said to us growing up: Never say or do anything you don’t want to be used against you later.

      • Keena Lykins

        ginidietrich AmyMccTobin Or as I tell clients during media training–never write or say anything you wouldn’t want to see scroll across a Times Square news ticker.

  • Keena Lykins

    When I was a working journalist, I would on rare occasion go “off the record,” but that only meant the source wouldn’t be used in the story. I would simply find another way to report the information. And the only people I had this agreement with were the secretaries and janitors. They are the best sources but the most vulnerable.

    • Keena Lykins Note to self: Give PattiRoseKnight1 a raise.

    • dnovich

      Keena Lykins I agree. As a reporter, you never want to go off the record. But that is more because if you are ethical, it is a waste of your time. You can’t use what the source said. And often what is said off the record is simply opinion. The fact that the comm. director cursed? Please. Reporters are always being yelled at by sources. (The insult that used to bug me the most was I was a reporter was when they said I got my facts wrong). But that being said, It’s part of the job. Usually, reporters don’t write about their sources venting because the public doesn’t care; they care about the news. The rest is inside baseball. But in this case, I guess you could make the case that it is news: Weiner needed to respond, and the comm director’s venting seemed like the most candid reaction to the intern’s story. But you can be sure that if that the relationship between the reporter and that comm director is over.

  • PattiRoseKnight1

    Off the record? Who doesn’t know it means “scoop”.

    • PattiRoseKnight1 Apparently this communications director didn’t know it.

  • I have to chuckle sometimes at our own inanity, especially those of use who fall under the titles of professional communicators. How many times does a post like this have to be written to sink in. Is it our egos that we have somehow risen above any question of credibility, authority or influence level; is it our lack of education and experience; or is it simply that we are naive (ignorant) to believe there is such a thing as ‘off the record”? 
    I am always dismayed (more angry) at professional women who will use such vile and debasing language to describe another woman as we only serve to exacerbate a stereotype resulting in self-infliction of reputation as a gender.
    Is is not enough with the recent NSA revelations, issues of Facebook perpetuity after death and the endless showcasing that real time social media has surfaced with ensuing damage to individual career and company image, that the comment ‘off the record’ is but a record in itself?

    • annelizhannan The language thing is something belllindsay and I talked about yesterday. You are absolutely correct that it only exacerbates the stereotype. It was so bad I couldn’t even use quotes from it. Shocking.

      • ginidietrich annelizhannan belllindsay I guess I’m more jaded having worked in NY politics…I do not agree with the use of this language (from men or women) – it’s unprofessional and ditzy (for speaking to a reporter this way), but it’s not the least bit shocking to me.

  • littlegiantprod

    When I lived on the west coast, I took some courses on reporting.  One of the memorable lessons taught was the ‘off the record’ topic.  It was hard to believe that someone would record everything you’re saying without notice. How can anyone do that?  I guess I believed the good in all people.  But my great professor who was a long-time journalist had enough experience for me to trust his word.  Anyone can be recorded at anytime.  Some reporters may take advantage of the juicy story.  I agree with your post.  Great personal story too.

    • littlegiantprod A few years ago, I learned a (former) employee was recording all of our conversations – private and all-staff meetings. He was fired for it. While journalists are held to the ethics of telling you you’re being recorded, not everyone does it.

      • bobledrew

        ginidietrich littlegiantprod Ummmmmm….WHAT?!

  • I realize the point of your post is about the fundamental rule that nothing is off the record but my heart bled for you when I read your story about The Catfish Institute.

    • EdenSpodek Yeah, it was sad, but such a great lesson.

      • ginidietrich EdenSpodek They need a better name btw than the Catifish Institute sounds like a home for broken major league pitchers. (Catfish Hunter owned and operated)

  • ElissaFreeman

    I died a little when I read that last line at the end of the interview. Oy.

  • Social media makes everything you say “on the record’ forever… What a hairball experience!

  • I saw the end coming, and it still felt like a punch in the gut. That’s something so very Sally-Field-you-LIKE-me! – to have a long day in conversation about a topic you care about, only to shoot yourself in the head, figuratively speaking, at the very last moment. As a former net news engineer and then field producer, I saw this live more than once. And it’s a little heartbreaking, even when the subject is a complete asshole.

    • MightyCaseyMedia If it had been anyone but 60 Minutes, they probably wouldn’t have even noticed. But because those guys are real investigative reporters…sigh…

      • ginidietrich not entirely true – granted, the big players will be more tuned in to off the cuff comments, but any real reporter will hear bells when someone says something like your guy did.

        • MightyCaseyMedia ginidietrich When we used to do interviews, the GOLDEN RULE was to keep rolling tape (how quaint!) even when the interview was over, while they were just chit chatting and getting their mikes off, etc.. Often, that’s when you would get the best bits – when the guest wasn’t ‘on point’ so to speak.

        • belllindsay ginidietrich I started my TV career as a field recordist – been there, done EXACTLY that. Hidden camera/mic stuff, too.

  • Oh wow Gini… that is so damn heart breaking! I think you raised an essential point though- it isn’t that people set out to talk about these issues, sometimes the words just fall out. I’m not a scientist, but when you spend so much time thinking about a certain thing, even if you are thinking “don’t say it!”, it is obviously top of mind. 
    But Weiner’s communication director? WOW. That’s just sloppy, really, really sloppy… Especially given the nature of the campaign thus far.

    • RebeccaTodd It is hard when it’s top-of-mind…you’re right. We were living and breathing that at the time. It was hard for any of us not to talk about it. And, after three days with that news team, they became friends. Sigh…

  • jenzings

    I worked in politics for a while, and one of the first things you learn is that there is no off the record. One of the other things you learn quickly is “never get mad, except on purpose”–in other words, you must think everything–EVERYTHING–through, even losing your temper. That might sound inauthentic, but staying in control of everything, even (or especially) your emotions is critical. 
    That said, the Twitpic of her “swear jar” with 100’s and a credit card in it from her stream is pretty funny, and a solid step in admitting fault.

    • jenzings I saw her twit.pic and found it just to be another flippant statement that tossing a buck in the OhMy will buy her restitution (not a smart strategy for crisis communication).  I did not see this as a  sincere apology on the road to recovery.

      • jenzings

        annelizhannan Well, I’d agree that it isn’t a sincere apology. But I’m okay with it, especially considering the general egos that are involved in politics–it at least shows humor and a willingness to move on. I can’t fault her for that, and I think the tendency in blogs and on social media to flail someone until they quit or get fired is disgusting.

        • jenzings annelizhannan you should see Jack Bauer’s swear jar. It has Gucci collars and Rolex Dog Watches in it.

        • Howie Goldfarb jenzings annelizhannan Jack Bauer the dog, who was told yesterday he’s going to wear a sign that says, “$5 to pet me” to earn his keep?

    • jenzings I thought that was pretty funny, too. But then I read a few more articles and this is apparently her MO. I guess she asked a reporter the other day if she F’ing knows what Facebook is. So be funny, but unless you change that behavior, it’s all for naught.

      • jenzings

        ginidietrich I’ll admit I haven’t followed this story too closely, and have no information whatsoever on her or her background or behavior. 
        Given that comment, I fear that she’s one of those I used to observe in politics: a woman who thinks that to succeed in a typically male-dominated environment, she has to be “one of the boys” (apparently, “one of the boys”=talk like a sailor, which is different than talk like a pirate…/digression). 
        In short, I agree: if she doesn’t learn the lesson and change the behavior, her career will be short indeed.

        • jenzings ginidietrich I have the foulest of mouths and regularly curse like a sailor – but even *I* know when it’s ‘ok’ and when to never use such language. No excuse for that kind of ranting and raving.

      • ginidietrich jenzings Did you see the video of her prepping the room for Weiner’s arrival? She couldn’t take her eyes off her phone and was pretty rude to the people. Not a way to build rapport at all. You could feel the animosity oozing out of her.

    • bobledrew

      jenzings “Never get mad, except on purpose” — great advice, Jen.

  • Exactly. The first thing I tell my subject matter experts when I do media training is that there is no such thing as off-the-record, so don’t even bring that up.
    In the case of Weiner (I never thought I’d type those words together in a sentence) everyone here is to blame, from the New York Daily News who gave the intern (and her glamour shots) space to run something that was sure to incite a reaction, to the communications person for calling the intern one of the most callous and offensive words in the history of the English language, to Anthony Weiner for just being himself.
    At least us future communications students now have an excellent case study in how not to communicate.

    • bradmarley The intern is a very pretty girl. I’d use the glamour shots, too! It is the Daily News, after all.

      • ginidietrich bradmarley The shot was a bit much. A bit too ‘come hither’ for someone wanting to be respected.

      • ginidietrich The fact that she had them made up for this (I assume?) leads me to believe her intention was to become part of the story. But maybe I’m just wrong and naive and jaded.

  • Debra As belllindsay points out, there are times you could use that phrase to your advantage, but communications professionals are trained to never, ever, ever use it.

  • You know it.
    It takes a lot of coaching. When we first got email (when it was new for business) my boss required signing off on every one we sent to customers. Today we should know better but we see plenty of politicians blow it (47%) and just this week 
    Funny think about the eagle is he is at a Kenny Chesney concert. You can’t be a tough guy and be there he should know better.

    • Howie Goldfarb Your boss had to sign off on every email you sent? That’s hilarious!

  • When people tell me something’s off the record, usually something along the lines of “how adorable” pops into my head.
    When I was a reporter or a senior level editor, I wouldn’t attribute that information to the person, but I would find another attributable source for that information. So, I would protect the source, but not the information, if I felt the public needed to know it.
    I still do that, but as a publisher/GM, I do understand the need to hold things close to the vest and I will WORK WITH a very very very limited number of sources that I trust – sources that I KNOW will give me a head start on other media when the time comes.
    But burn me once then it is “Katie bar the door” as my dad used to say.

    • ClayMorgan When we media train clients, we ALWAYS coach about the “off-the-record” comment (that and “no comment”). We are trained to mitigate risk and that’s one of the ways to do it. I can see why journalists would be okay to use it (and you’re one of the ethical guys who actually holds it in confidence), but it’s not okay for anyone else to use it.

  • I don’t know. In terms of creativity in epithetery, I give the prize to the sorority girl a couple of months back who cussed out her fellow sisters for slacking (also lovingly performed by Michael Shannon on YouTube).
    I observed this yesterday with a mix of prurient interest (get the popcorn!) and pity — accompanied by a lot of cringing. You mix inexperience and the enormous stress that campaign is going through and this is the result.
    Morgan certainly bears a lot of responsibility, but in many ways she is just one more victim of Weiner’s ridiculous ego. When these kind of scandals occur, I always feel for the staff. They’re sold a bill of goods by the candidate, and they put their heart and their lives on the line for them only to be kicked in the teeth.

    • RobBiesenbach “epithetery” – I love that.

    • RobBiesenbach HAHAHAH! I forgot about her. That was priceless!
      I don’t think inexperience and stress is an excuse. Mr. D is in politics. I know a lot of the communications directors for big campaigns (including Presidential). Not one of them behaves in this manner. It’s unprofessional. She had no sense of decorum.

      • ginidietrich No, not necessarily an excuse … but inexperience at least is a reason this happened. I feel like she was in over her head. And that’s probably attributable to Weiner’s inability to attract top-notch talent to an obviously flawed campaign (and candidate). I mean, there’s a reason communications directors for presidential campaigns don’t find themselves in this predicament: they’ve got the proven skills and experience to rise to that level.

  • JeffHaws

    As someone with more than a decade in the journalism industry, here’s the key … Is there, technically speaking, such a thing as “off the record”? Of course. Journalists do, in fact, grant it (reluctantly) to some people in some limited cases, where the sensitivity of the subject demands it, but we still want badly enough to report what they’re saying. It’s generally a last resort, because it’s the only way we can get the story, which is our main goal. I know of many editors who simply, 100% will not allow anonymous sources to support a story, and I get why.
    However, if you’re a PR person, Gini is absolutely right … there IS NO off the record. We simply have no reason to grant it to you, because you’re not at all likely to give us controversial information that we’d trust enough to run with. And that’s fine, because part of your *job* is to protect the company you work for. If the PR person starts telling you terrible things about their company, you get suspicious. If the PR person tells you terrible things about another company, you dismiss it. If the PR person tells you great things about their company, why would they want it off the record?
    And we sure as heck aren’t going to make your profanity-laced rant off the record? What’s in that for us? Not a darn thing, I can assure you. So yes, don’t say anything to a journalist you don’t expect to be publicly attributed to you.

  • As usual, ginidietrich, you’re right on…nothing EVER is “off-the-record” and any professional knows this. Undoubtedly a political communications director in the NY media market should know this. When you’re swimming in the shark tank, you don’t deliberately cut yourself! Having worked in the political arena myself, I also know that when you’re in the midst of a monumental ___storm, you sometimes lose your head – this episode is a classic case-in-point. This whole campaign will be poli sci fodder for years to come.
    I do wonder though…are we (the public) more disgusted by this because she’s a woman using this language about another woman? There are many male politicians (some maybe are even from, ahem, Chicago?) who regularly drop language bombs.  Definitely doesn’t make it right, but I’m just wondering if this is a bigger deal because it’s a girl fight?

    • lizreusswig I’m not a fan of the language Rahm uses, but he never uses it in adjectives about a person. Yeah, he swears like a sailor, but it’s never about a person. Perhaps you’re right…the fact that she’s calling another woman is why we’re all up in arms. But the thing that really gets me about the whole thing is her saying she thought it was off-the-record. You’re the communications director. You know that doesn’t exist.

      • ginidietrich We must have the Rahm part of this conversation in person & “off-the-record!” 🙂  But I agree with you about her lack of professionalism…I’m guessing the “off-the-record” excuse really is just a cya and it’ll be interesting to see how many more “scoops” the reporter gets going forward.

        • lizreusswig I’m a fan only because he’s creating protected bike lanes throughout the city. Otherwise his reputation proceeds him.

      • ginidietrich lizreusswig Rahm’s hawt.

  • Wow, what a story! Also, I love fried catfish. 
    Lots of great points from everyone, and I’ve been on both sides. Even more in PR but with a twist. I interview people for our magazine who will often say “that’s not for publication” (usually after they’ve already said it) as if they’re talking to a journalist and not someone in marcom. I find it interesting that they view me more as a reporter than the PR manager. I’m looking for a great story that ultimately exemplifies some positive aspect of the organization; I’m not looking for an expose.

    • Word Ninja I like fried catfish, too! 🙂

      • lizreusswig Word Ninja I don’t like fried catfish! I know…that’s really bad.

  • douglaserice

    It astonishes me that people haven’t learned this yet. Although this story didn’t directly involve online content, one would think that the proliferation of information people are online would make us more cautious about what we say online and off. 
    People talk. They have always talked. It used to be in a bar or a coffee shop. Now, it’s on Facebook and Twitter. Sometimes people share things with others and reveal secrets without ever even meaning to. That’s just the way we are. 
    So, moral of the story, watch what you say. “Off the record” was a phrase invented by the naive. If you have something that you’re ashamed of, don’t think it. If you must think it, don’t say it. If you must say it, deal with the consequences.

    • douglaserice To your point, more stories are coming out about how she behaves and this seems to be her MO. Not good. At all.

  • She should’ve known better for sure – and honestly those are the things you may say to yourself, but NEVER to anyone else! 
    It’s a shame people need to be reminded of this. I guess common sense isn’t so common.

    • susancellura

      yvettepistorio I think common sense left many people a LONG time ago!

    • yvettepistorio As we like to say…stupidity

  • Great post Gini. Indeed common sense or lack of it has a lot to do with these experiences. On the other hand, this happens when people forget in what position they are. Journalists are NOT your friends. No matter how well you worked with them, how well the interview went, how many years you have known each other, they still have a job to do, just like you. Period.

    • @corinamanea I have a couple of real friends who are journalists and, when we’re out, I always watch what I say about work or clients because you just can’t undo what you heard or know.

      • bobledrew

        ginidietrich @corinamanea And I think it’s unfair to them to say “You can’t use this but… ” It’s like you’re dangling a hot dog in front of Jack Bauer and letting him sniff it, but not eat it. When I did media relations, if I was on the phone or having a drink with a journalist friend, I would say “There are some things I can’t talk about. Sorry.”

        • bobledrew Or saying, “Look at this fancy new bike” to you, but not letting you ride it.

      • ginidietrich I love “you can´t undo what you heard or know”

  • RegisDudley

    Those last 5 paragraphs made my stomach hurt. I can’t imagine the sinking feeling of packing in around the TV, eager to watch the 60 Minutes episode, and then… horror. I’m glad you wrote, this, ginidietrich. I’ll pass along to my colleague who teaches media relations ;).

    • RegisDudley ginidietrich I had the same reaction. I read those last paragraphs with the voice in my head going “No. No no no no no”

      • TaraGeissinger RegisDudley It was pretty awful. We knew what happened before it aired, though. They told us…and gave us a chance to respond.

        • Keena Lykins

          ginidietrich TaraGeissinger RegisDudley The story is legend in FH circles. I also use it during media training, sans client/agency name. 🙂

  • There is no confidential, no off record, everything is fair and plain view of someone with a cell phone, a SM account. What’s done can’t be undone, what’s seen cannot be unseen, never mind getting the video off YT. Privacy? Puh-lease. Co-signing the common sense of the other comments – if it’s a secret, keep it to yourself. Period. FWIW.

    • 3HatsComm This is why you should never send pictures of your private parts via text.

      • ginidietrich That’s one of COUNTLESS reasons you should never send pictures of your private parts via text. Ever. EVER. 3HatsComm

        • mickeygomez Are you sure there isn’t one reason you should?

  • bobledrew

    I’m going to take a different tack here. At the risk of trying to get inside someone else’s head: I don’t believe for a minute that she thought her conversation was off the record. I think she used that phrase as a way to try to dig herself out of the mess she created. That aside, I think your post provides very good advice for anyone doing media relations — and SOCIAL media relations too!

    • patmrhoads

      bobledrew I’m with you on this one. I don’t believe for a second she thought she was off the record. In fact, I doubt she was thinking at all. My hunch is that she reacted (overreacted) in anger and realized later what a mess she’d created. “I thought I was off the record” was the best excuse she could hope to come up with. 
      If that’s the case, it adds another element to the lesson that we all need to walk away with. Many times, people asking for comment are looking for something juicy (to use Gini’s word) to print/broadcast. Catching someone off guard or making them angry is a great way to get it. The lesson, then, is to always take two or three deep breaths before you answer something that you were unprepared for or for which your instant reaction is to become angry. Come to think of it, this is how I communicate with loved ones, as well, and for the same reason: to NOT say something I’ll regret later.

    • bobledrew I agree with you. Based on her behavior and her tweets, I absolutely think that is true.

  • Good, instructive piece. Thx!

  • I LOVE the catfish story. It reminds me of the Fawlty Towers episode where Basil is told explicitly not to “mention the war” in front of his German guests. Pretty much every single thing that leaves his mouth after that is, of course, about the war.
    And I’m sorry to admit that the thought of the look on your face when you found out what happened is maybe mildly amusing. You know, in a completely supportive way.

  • allpointspr100

    There really is no such thing as off the record. Memories don’t forget things easily and thus, everything you say is on some sort of record.

  • tracibrowne

    Gina, I understand the point you are making but also want to emphasize that “off-the-record” is still a very respected phrase to journalists. But you have to actually say it before you speak. You can’t just throw it out there after something is published. Here is an excellent article from Poynter that talks about guidelines for off-the-record conversations. It’s old but still relevant.

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