Sun News ran a story earlier this week in which they played an audio recording of Liberal candidate for Banff-Airdrie, Marlo Raynalds, says that instead of spending tax cuts in ways that are beneficial to the economy, Albertans just spent the extra cash on frivolous things: “They bought TVs, they bought cars, they bought, you know, all these different things. They purchased items that really didn’t do anything to benefit the economy.” THE TRAVESTY! THE HORROR! How dare Canadians buy consumer durables that make them happy and get them to work on time?!
Wait, let’s take a step back. Mr. Raynalds is now claiming that the audio recording is not of him at all, that he would never say such horrible things about taxpayers. He also asked Sun to retract the story entirely.
— Marlo Raynolds (@MarloRaynolds) November 20, 2014
There are two problems here. First, our good friend Marlo officially denied that the audio clip was him at all in a YouTube video (forgive his poor camera quality and listen to the true sincerity in his voice…). In this YouTube video he never explicitly denies that it was his voice saying all those mean things about TVs and cars, he decides instead to rebut sitting Conservative MP Blake Richards ripping on him during Question Period, leagues away from Raynolds’ Alberta basement where that video was clearly filmed. The video also has another achilles heel. If you compare the voice in the video to the voice from the audio recording, they sound eerily similar. Almost like it’s the same person speaking in both. Almost like Sun News actually fact-checked their audio recording and are not being totally evil.
The second problem is that Raynalds has waded into the Twitter flame war that inevitably accompanies a (potentially fake?) gaffe like this. The “beer and popcorn” incident of 2005 did not have the Twitter problem, so maybe the lack of precedent is why Marlo responded to the haters, but that never goes well. Who do you think is going to tweet about a Sun News story about a relatively unknown Liberal candidate? Spoiler: it’s Conservative hacks. So now Raynalds is in the digital crosshairs of leagues of Tory Tweeters and the rest of us watch with our beer and popcorn, because it’s quite a show.
If you want to be a political candidate one day, here’s crisis management 101. Actually, knowing this is a prerequisite for crisis management 101. When you say something stupid, or even more importantly if someone else claims you say something stupid and it’s not true, DO NOT ENGAGE. What’s the best way to draw attention to a story? Talk about it all the time.
While it’s easy to assume Sun News is the bad guy making up stories (or at least inflating their importance), sometimes politicians need to learn to just keep their yap shut. I know we pay you the big bucks to talk a big game, but when it’s your word against Sun’s, the less words you speak the better. For now, it looks like the audio and the video match and Mr. Raynalds is going to have some angry phone calls from Liberal HQ to answer.
P.S. That is one big tax cut if I can use it to buy a car. It’s way more likely I’m just going to buy beer and popcorn.