Gov. Steve Sisolak keeps prioritizing his personal publicity over keeping Nevadans informed.
Last week, Sisolak held a news conference to release his plan to reopen Nevada. One problem. Midway through the briefing, it was obvious he didn’t have one. The most notable specific he shared was that Nevada needs a 14-day decline in the percentage of positive coronavirus tests before beginning an undefined “Phase 1.” He refused to tell Nevadans how they could track the state’s progress.
That’s a big deal to Nevadans who are trying to figure out when and how they can get back to work. It wasn’t the biggest story last week, though, because of Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman’s disastrous interview on CNN.
After Goodman’s performance generated outrage around the country, Sisolak went to work — booking national TV appearances. He appeared on CNN with Anderson Cooper, MSNBC with Chris Hayes, and on the “Today Show.” He also eagerly promoted an appearance with Wolf Blitzer, but the interview fell through.
Last week, Sisolak’s Twitter feed did more to hype his media appearances than to inform Nevadans about what’s to come.
In a vacuum, there’s nothing wrong with doing national TV interviews. But a governor’s first priority is to the people who elected him. Sisolak didn’t have another press conference at all that week, although he did give some individual interviews to Nevada reporters.
Also, if you don’t have a plan to reopen Nevada after you said you’d present one, you shouldn’t have time to do anything else. Helping the almost 400,000 Nevadans who are unemployed because of the coronavirus lockdown must be the governor’s priority.
Even this week, Sisolak’s rollout of information has looked designed to maximize his publicity, not help Nevadans figure out the plan as we enter May. That’s when his lockdown order was supposed to end.
“On Monday, we joined the Western States compact,” Sisolak tweeted on Tuesday. “Every day this week, I will have big announcements for Nevadans as we finalize our Nevada United: Roadmap to Recovery.”
Cliffhangers are great at the end of a book chapter or during a TV show. They keep you engaged. But they’re not great in real life — particularly when the unemployment rate is more than 25 percent and 3 million people need to know what they’re allowed to do come Friday.
Nevertheless, Sisolak opted to put the details out slowly. On Tuesday, he announced the resumption of delayed medical procedures. On Wednesday — on a national TV show, no less — it was the extension of Nevada’s stay-at-home order to May 15. That evening he also rolled back his ridiculous restrictions on golf and drive-up church services. On Thursday, he had a press conference on his more detailed plan.
This dribbling out of information smacks of pure narcissism. It’s the same thing as President Donald Trump bragging about the TV ratings of his coronavirus briefings. People aren’t watching to see Sisolak — or Trump. They’re watching because they want to know then they can salvage what they can of their job, their business or their child’s education.
Sisolak needs to prioritize informing Nevadans over boosting his national profile.