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Avoiding The Conversations That Matter

Author’s note: This is a work of fiction.

“I’m not touching it,” he said. “I’m just not. Don’t go on and on about it.”

“But we have to. It’s a huge controversy.”

“No. Absolutely not. Never.”

“Why not?” I asked, knowing the answer in advance.

“Because we report to Headquarters. And they said no. Don’t you get it? The subject is third rail.”

“But if it’s third rail, then that is precisely what we should be talking about.”

“Oh my God. You’re fired! Get out of here!”

“You can’t fire me again. You’ve fired me fifty times already.”

“Just go back to your office, Dannielle. Really!”


And then, suddenly, I swiveled.

“Then what is the point of communicating anything about anything?”

His face had turned very, very red.

“Because nobody actually even asked about that!”

And then, to himself, “Geez!”

I should have turned back and retreated. But something in me said: No.

“We are, right now, a headline.”

“Not us. We’re not the headline. No, we are not.”

“Yes, absolutely we are. We are, along with five other agencies that all touch the same problem.”

“Dannielle, I do not run five agencies.”

“We’ve had interagency task forces before. They work. Let’s make one.”

“Is there a crisis I hadn’t heard about? Because nobody is picking up the Bat Phone.”

“Yes, in fact, there is, Sir. The crisis is that people don’t trust the government.”

“Not my problem. I don’t need to be on the cover of The Washington Post.”

“Sir, I have spoken to reporters in the past. The more you clue them in, the more you provide information to the public, the more favorable their coverage of you, because they see you have nothing to hide.”

“Not my problem.”

“Sir, you have to alleviate the public’s concerns.”

“No, actually I don’t.”

“What does that mean?”

“What I have to do is answer to my chain of command. Stepping outside of that chain, to create a problem that does not currently exist, violates every known principle of government communication.”




“You’re an excellent writer, but you’re fired again. Go take a walk around the block, and don’t come back to my office today.”

I had to restrain myself from shouting.


Posted August 29, 2017 by Dannielle Blumenthal, Ph.D. All opinions are the author’s own. This blog is hereby released into the public domain. Public domain photo by Geralt via Pixabay.

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