It’s Easy When You Know the Answers

There’s an old saying among trial lawyers: “Never ask a question (of a witness) to which you don’t already know the answer.” On the other hand, no one should face the court of public opinion via the media or audiences in person, without first asking and answering for yourself the obvious questions.

Case, in point, Jeb Bush, presumptive Republican presidential candidate, brother of past-president George W. Bush, was caught off-guard in recent weeks and repeatedly contradicted himself in a number of public appearances failing to have a clear and concise answer on how he would have handled Iraq.

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When asked if “knowing what we know now” — that U.S. intelligence was faulty and Saddam Hussein didn’t have weapons of mass destruction (WMD) — he would have invaded Iran, the former Florida Governor responded in the affirmative.

But then in the days following the interview, Bush insisted that he “misinterpreted” the question and corrected himself. “Knowing what we know now,” he would not have invaded Iraq.

Mr. Bush and his advisors would have done well to have asked and answered that question in media training before the inquiring minds of the media addressed it. In like manner, declared presidential Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton should by now have an answer to questions regarding her husband, former President Bill Clinton’s well-publicized affair during his term in office.

The goal of professional media training is not to predict all the questions, but to help a client craft answers to predictable questions. As a wise father once said to his daughter’s complaint that a test was hard, “it’s easy when you know the answers.”