By Pachico A. Seares
Public & Standards Editor
Sun.Star Cebu and Sun.Star Superbalita [Cebu]
Arnold Schwarzenegger, movie star and former governor of California, emitted a loud snore when reporters asked him why before he left public office he cut by half the jail term the court had imposed on the son of his political crony.
The snore was his way of saying “no comment,” just as peculiar as his manner of talking that standup comedians in the U.S. mimic.
But was it really a “no comment”? He did say something, nay, a lot. In effect, he said the question bored him, devastatingly so that it had sent him to sleep and into a snoring binge.
New source’s right
A news source has the right to keep quiet or refuse to answer, and say so, when he thinks he shouldn’t.
There are some, of course, who say “no comment” but soon go into a full discourse on the issue raised and then, as afterthought, say “off the record.”
They are the exception: news sources who give reporters the run-around and expect to get a good press the next day.
A news source may say “no comment” because he still has no idea what media’s talking about, or he does but he doesn’t know what the heck to say, or whatever he says he sounds idiotic or guilty as sin.
At least, an admission of having nothing to say is better than riposting with “That’s a good question” while he hems and haws, struts and puffs, and ends up saying nothing that a plain “no comment” can’t say.
There are ways to say “no comment” other than explicitly saying so. The news source can say he still hasn’t received the report, or his staff is still going over it, he still hasn’t made up his mind on such a complex subject, or he has a pressing engagement with a beauty salon.
The last excuse may piss off some reporters but if it’s the truth, it’s better than saying something he’d later regret, like blowing his top. And better than making that snoring sound.
The snore, a colleague says, is rude and contemptuous. But is it any more harsh and painful than canned derisive laughter that some radio talk shows use after each verbal lashing?
Schwarzenegger hasn’t said it but he might as well have: media should be able to take what it could dish out. Increasingly, media becomes more vulnerable by its own flaws, be they found in broadcast or in print.
Schwarzenegger’s snore delivered a meaner wallop than what any of his movie one-liners could’ve done. “Hasta la vista” or “I lied” or even the gross “You’re a tumor” would’ve been a lot tamer.