Over the past few days, the Governor’s Office has dramatically changed the way Gov. Michael Dunleavy is reaching Alaskans with his messages about how he is delivering on his campaign promises.
He’s no longer relying on reporters to translate his words through their own biases and editorial filters. Instead, he has created a version of a multimedia newsroom and is speaking directly to the people.
Today, he called out the Anchorage Daily News for an inaccurate headline, and he did so on Facebook Live video:
“On Monday, we made a direct appeal to the people of Alaska with regards to the budget and the PFD. We wanted to talk straight to the people unfiltered by anyone including the press.
“Today, we took a look at the newspaper and we saw this headline in the newspaper, that ‘Dunleavy sets the dividend at $1,600.’
“This is why we’re going to continue to go directly to you, the people of Alaska. The headline simply is not true. I did not set nor would I set a dividend at $1,600. I’ve always said and will continue to say that we should be following a decades-old calculation, and whatever that calculation comes up with, which is approximately $3,000 this year, that’s what we should be doing.
“But again, if the press isn’t going to get it right, we’re going to go directly to you with all the facts and all the figures so you understand what’s going on,” he said in his brief statement on Facebook.
Dunleavy showed his discontent with the way the press has treated him since he took office, and perhaps even before he was elected. His communication team has now taken that to heart, setting up an “AKGov Press” site on Facebook, where they have started calling out media by name and telling the public what information was given to the media that they chose not to report. These posts have only started showing up over the past few days, and they are content-rich.
“But again you may hear from those in the press that we’re not as accessible as some others may have been in the past. We’ll continue to be accessible to the press, but again, when we see headlines like this, which aren’t true, we have to correct those mistakes by going directly to you.
“So you’ll see more of us going to you through Facebook Live, live broadcasts, as well as recorded broadcasts to get the message out,” Dunleavy said. As a former school teacher, he had a bit of a scolding demeanor, as if he’d caught some kids smoking behind the school.
Dunleavy’s multi-media newsroom approach appears to be catching on with the public. His PFD message on Monday instantly had more than 2,000 viewers tuned in to hear what he had to say about budget cuts and the Permanent Fund dividend. His reproach of the Anchorage Daily News reporting of his Monday message was shared more than 480 times in four hours, with the vast majority of the comments and reactions being positive toward his message.
The reach Dunleavy has without having to hope for fairness from a reporter or editor with a bias has potential and may be a game-changer for this governor, who has from the beginning been treated by the press in the same manner they treated Gov. Sean Parnell.
Or, on the other hand, it may ratchet up to a war between the Governor’s Office and the entire media establishment in Alaska.
The reporting scrum has been fascinating to watch for media observers in recent days. They have been in full attack mode. One TV reporter asked Dunleavy three times during three separate press conferences last week a pointed question: “Do you feel like you owe Alaskans an apology?”
Dunleavy called out the reporter, saying he had already asked the question twice and it was getting fairly predictable.
“I’ll try to be less predictable next time,” the reporter responded.
That exchange may have been the final straw that caused the governor’s press team to change course with the media.