If you’ve ever wondered how not to answer a question from a reporter about a sensitive topic, an Arizona lawmaker showed the way on Wednesday.
David Cook, R-Globe, whose romantic letters to a married lobbyist have landed him in the news was approached by Dennis Welch, the political editor for 3TV (KTVK) and CBS 5 (KPHO), in a parking lot. Cook is also married.Welch asked him about the alleged affair, and things went south in a hurry.
“Dennis, if you have a problem with substance abuse, I am more than willing to talk to you anytime you need, because I think you do,” Cook said. “Because you call me and other members late at night, and I’m thinking about going and seeing your editor.”
‘Just let his response stand on its own’
Just to clarify a few things about reporting: Asking legislators and other newsmakers difficult questions is part of the job. Calling public figures at home is part of the job. As someone who has done this plenty of times, I can tell you that it’s not necessarily polite and it doesn’t make you the most popular person in the world, but it is both necessary and effective.
As for the substance abuse comment, who knows?
“In this case, I don’t want to speculate on his motivations here,” Welch told The Republic on Wednesday night. “Just let his response stand on its own.”
Welch said he had “no idea why” Cook answered the way he did.
“I was a little surprised by that,” he said. “But as you know, we have to ask these questions. We have to get their side of the story. It’s their opportunity to share with the public. … He chose to respond that way.”
What led to Welch’s questions for Cook
Cook reportedly sent letters to AnnaMarie Knorr, a lobbyist who works on legislation backed by the agricultural industry and is the daughter of an influential lobbyist. Cook is a rancher who represents a rural Pinal County district.
The agricultural trade association Knorr represents has placed her on leave.
Cook and Knoor have told The Arizona Republic that they are just friends.
Cook might have taken that route with Welch, as well, but he didn’t. Or he might have remembered the two words that are most effective when dealing with media questions you don’t want to answer:
That’s effective, too.
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