McChrystal: The Lessons
What lessons are there to take away?
1. As apparently General McChrystal didn’t or wouldn’t, remember when you are speaking to the press that you are speaking to the press. Obvious? Maybe not enough. If you are offered an interview opportunity that may seem attractive to your business efforts, do your homework. What is the publishing organ? Is it Time or is it tmz.com? That is, is it an organization which endeavors to be fair and objective and has a reputation to match? Or is it a shoot-from-the-hip medium which is only concerned about titillating its readers/viewers?
2. Then, who is the writer? Ask for published work if it’s available so that you may review the writer’s credentials and orientations. What you are doing is protecting yourself. But what you are also doing is impressing the writer that you did your own homework, and that you cared enough about the dialogue to familiarize yourself with the writer’s work.
3. And of this, remember: Writers are people, too, with egos. If you liked something the writer wrote, say so. It’s a great ice-breaker.
4. Then, in an interview setting, measure your words. You’re not going to lose your job if you say too little. But you might, like Stanley McChrystal, lose your job if you say too much. If you hear your mind caution you about a comment or revelation you might be about to make, think a couple of homely maxims: “Better safe than sorry.” And/or “When in doubt, leave it out.”