Governor hiding behind technology

Review-Journal political reporter Molly Ball reported today (read story here) on Gov. Jim Gibbons’ embrace of video podcasting. (Check out his podcasts here.) Gibbons touts the benefits of speaking directly to Nevada voters, rather than through the filter of the news media, while critics point out some misleading statements in the podcasts and the governor’s reluctance to engage directly with reporters and legislators.

What’s happening is plain to see. Gibbons doesn’t trust the news media to accurately or objectively report his perspective on a given story. At the same time, he doesn’t trust himself to speak directly to reporters without saying something dumb.

There’s no question Gibbons lacks the savvy of, say, Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman to go toe-to-toe with reporters asking tough questions. Goodman has been in the middle of controversy for decades, and he’s learned how to deal with it. He still lodges his foot in his mouth occasionally, but it’s all part of his persona.

Gibbons, perhaps to his credit, recognizes that he doesn’t possess such skills. The video podcasts are an opportunity for him to prepare his remarks (or, more likely, to have someone prepare them for him) and to practice delivering them until he gets them right.

The use of new technology is a good thing. The Obama campaign’s success can be attributed in substantial part to its use of digital venues to speak to voters.

But Gibbons has another motive here, which is to create a handy excuse to avoid regular contact with reporters and legislators. That can’t possibly be what we expect from the state’s chief executive. At this critical moment in the state’s history, we need a governor who’s willing to mix it up with reporters and lawmakers as we strive to save Nevada from financial disaster.

Alas, rather than being out front, leading the statewide debate, Gibbons is behind closed doors, rehearsing his podcasts. Recess is over.