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Hijack the question!

That is a soupçon of tactical knowledge that every lawyer sojourning on the TV frontier absorbs quickly. In the fast-paced realm of the electronic media, there are limited opportunities to speak. To be effective you must disregard the dictates of politeness ingested at your mother's knee, ignore the question presented, and make your point succinctly. To wit:

Question: Do you think Bill Clinton should be impeached?

Answer: I think the abuse of power by Ken Starr doomed the Office of Independent Counsel and set a dangerous example for a whole generation of prosecutors.

Because the proponents of ethical rules for commentators are bringing their considerable skills to bear on the wrong problem, we must "hijack" the commentator-ethics question and refocus the discussion. We should abandon further development of a code of ethics for commentators' and instead address the more pressing problem of the lack of ethical and strategic understanding demonstrated by lawyers dealing with the media on behalf of clients. It is distressingly common for lawyers to misunderstand that talking to a reporter may serve the lawyer's interest at the expense of the client. An unpaid media appearance is the best "advertising" a lawyer can have. On the other hand, many clients, particularly in criminal cases, are ill-served by extensive public comments by counsel.