Someone in the company of Frank Griswold, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, apparently has not grasped a basic principle of sensible media relations: Do not berate a reporter who’s trying to do her job.
Let’s go to the account by Ruth Gledhill of the London Times, writing in The Church of England Newspaper:
He was standing in front of me, looking me in the eye and smiling. In England at least, this is normally taken by journalists as an invitation to proceed.
“Bishop, would you do it again?”
He is not an Archbishop, so the fault was not in the style of address. But clearly I had done something very wrong. In an instant, his minder had translocated from her place by his side to stand right in front of him, glare up at me and state: “You are so rude.”
The “it” in Gledhill’s sentence referred to consecrating Gene Robinson — the first bishop of the Episcopal Church who openly discussed his homosexuality before his election. It seems like a reasonable question, and it’s a fair bet Gledhill anticipated an answer in the affirmative (albeit heavily nuanced).
One reason not to berate a reporter is that you may prompt her to draw her own conclusions, based on her observation of your actions:
But surely even Frank Griswold could see it might not be the best idea in the world to shun a national newspaper journalist in that way. Then again, a primate who is capable of overriding the opinions of large parts of the Global South, not to mention parts of his own province, is clearly not going to give a toss about The Times. We will never know. He was frogmarched from the room before any more questions could be asked.
Now if an Anglican prelate cannot tell his own, diminutive female minder that on this occasion, it might not be a bad idea to answer a question — and we all know that Grizzy has no problem thinking up appropriately slippery answers to even the most direct of interrogations — however is he going to be able to exert any authority he does have to ensure his bishops abide by the moratorium asked for in the Windsor report? My guess, judging from this encounter and from his statements in the preceding debate with Josiah Fearon, is that he is not even going to try.
. . . It is up to you, archbishops, to ask Frank Griswold whether he or his church intend any more consecrations of the kind that the Windor Report has asked for a moratorium on. He may not tell you the answer either. But as you already know, if you don’t ask him, he certainly won’t tell. You at least will not be ticked off, simply for asking the question.
And I have one final word for Frank. If I was rude to you today Frank, which I don’t think I was, I do regret it very much. But I won’t apologise. Is there a difference? Maybe you don’t think there is.