US lawmaker uses neat flip phone trick to avoid talking to "pesky reporters"

In an article that reads an awful lot like an Onion parody, Politico reports that Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) "is well known for pulling a flip phone out of his pocket and pretending to hold a conversation."
“I try to teach my colleagues this excellent technique,” he said as he quickly tried to hop into an elevator. “I say, ‘You want to avoid these pesky reporters, talk on your cellphone.’”

When he can’t grab his phone, Schumer will often turn to the closest senator – Democrat or Republican – and start a conversation. It’s considered a violation of protocol to interrupt two members while they’re talking.

“There is a time and place for everything,” said Schumer, who is known to warn freshmen about talking to reporters, sometimes specific ones, in the hallways.

More nifty Senator tricks to avoid the fourth estate: "The silent senators" []


  1. Is this really any different than someone wearing headphones while listening to nothing to avoid conversation? Wait, I will answer my own question: This guy is an elected official & it’s part of his job to deal with reports & humans. Okay, bye.

      1.  How’s about they randomly – but collectively – decide to starve him of media oxygen. See how he likes them apples.

        1. If he doesn’t talk to the press at all, sure, but if he just won’t talk on the run that’s rather different.

  2. I don’t see this as so one-sided. Legislating and reporting are both noble and necessary professions. Lawmakers need to talk to reporters, and they also need to take care not to say things that sound wrong when taken (accidentally or deliberately) out of context. The latter need can be used as an excuse to shirk the talking-to-reporters duty, just as reporters’ need to convey politicians’ words to the public can be used as an excuse to selectively omit context for various extra-journalistic purposes. Of course, there are better ways to put off complex-answer-needing questions than faking a phone conversation. (Just as there are better ways to form adjectives than stringing words together with hyphens, but we all have our weaknesses.)

  3. I mean, I get annoyed at Schumer but like, until there is a division between journalism & the paparazzi this is always going to be sticky.  & no, I don’t have a pithy answer to how to distinguish that, or differentiate them.

    1. Quite right.  If there’s a burning question that the public want publicised and answered, throw it at him, and if he ignores it, throw out loud that he’s publicly refusing to approach an issue.

      Be brave, journalists!  Be brave.

  4. I’m not sure I’d like reporters ambushing me in the workplace, but given their role in public society and the running of our Country, I think they should expect it and deal with it appropriately. The ‘Come see me in my office, so I don’t dash off a crappy response that will be taken incorrectly or out of context.’ approach seems to be the best.

  5. It’s considered a violation of protocol to interrupt two members while they’re talking.

    Unless you’re C3PO, eff protocol.

  6. [quote]It’s considered a violation of protocol to interrupt two members while they’re talking.[/quote]
    Any reporter who refuses to interrupt two congresscritters having a conversation but would interrupt two similarly-situated regular people should quit journalism immediately. “Objectivity” demands it.

  7. I mistrust our Congresscritters as much as the next person but that does not give reporters carte blanch to engage them in question and answer sessions anytime, anyplace of their choosing.

    If the person is busy, on his way to an appointment, thinking over something etc, I have no problem with doing whatever he or she deems necessary to get past people demanding “just a moment of your time” to get done what he or she needs to get done.

    “It is easier to deal with a footpad than it is with the leech who wants “just a few minutes of your time, please—this won’t take long.” Time is your total capital, and the minutes of your life are painfully few. If you allow yourself to fall into the vice of agreeing to such requests, they quickly snowball to the point where these parasites will use up 100 percent of your time—and squawk for more!”

    Robert A. Heinlein

  8. A technique I find useful is putting my hands over my ears and humming “I can’t hear you!  I can’t hear you!”  It usually works when you don’t want to talk to someone.

    Or, you can say “I forgot I left something on the stove in my kitchen!” and then bolt.  That works too.

    And finally, you can also answer any question with: “I know you are, but what am I?”  After four or five replies they’ll usually give up.

  9. I think I have seen enough ambush journalism – catch them off-guard and hope they say something unconsidered – to understand why a Senator might want to limit question taking to times and places of their choosing.  There is nothing here that says Schumer avoiding journalist all-together and there is no reason that a Senator owes it to Journalist to be available every minute at a moments notice.

  10. Political journalism has to be obviously worthwhile and avoid irrelevant tittle-tattle to be taken seriously.  I was listening to BBC Radio 2 last Friday (I think) evening, and a spot came up on the news (life of me, can’t remember what about, sorry) where the presenter spoke about some accusation or issue to do with ministers of parliament.  It sounded strong.  But then she went on to say s/t along the lines of ‘ministers have responded …’ and we had a 20 or 30 second slot of delicately worked PR from the mouth of the relevant minister, reasonably and comfortingly reassuring why the government was right.  Nothing, no quote, no spot, no mention of the accusers’ position, then on to the next article.

    It was absurd.  Straight from 1984 (Orwell’s, not Chronos’).

    1.  I was going to say. I’d be more upset if I thought MSM reporters were asking worthwhile questions….

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