PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Gov. Gina Raimondo apologized Wednesday for slamming Rhode Island’s biggest media outlets over what she sees as critical or insufficient coverage of her administration.
The Democratic governor said she regrets her characterization of media outlets in the state and apologized to reporters, editors and publishers she offended.
At Brown University on Tuesday, Raimondo said she’s relying more on social media and spending a lot more time with “micro local media” in Rhode Island. WPRO News first reported her comments.
Raimondo singled out WJAR-TV, which frequently interviews her for its “Connect to the Capitol” segment.
“It started out, even when I started two years ago, as a nice back-and-forth, and now they call it going one-on-one with the governor, like it’s all a fight, you know, motif,” Raimondo said.
“One-on-one” is commonly used to describe exclusive interviews. Raimondo also took aim at the state’s largest newspaper, The Providence Journal, and at broadcast news generally.
“Our local paper, The Providence Journal, was something that many or most Rhode Islanders read, certainly all influencers read,” she said, calling it “a shadow of its former self” because it has cut back on reporters.
“So you can’t rely on that,” she added. “News, broadcast news, has become almost like talk radio.”
Raimondo was responding to a question from the audience about the dynamic between the media and politicians in the Trump era, and whether there’s a lot of hyperbole and distraction from issues.
“It’s almost impossible to get the news out,” she said.
The news director at WJAR-TV, Scott Isaacs, said Wednesday that the station’s weekly segment gives viewers direct access to their elected officials, and most questions for Raimondo come from voters. He expects Raimondo to participate in Thursday’s segment.
“We would not be doing our jobs if we did not ask the governor tough questions about the decisions she makes in office,” he said.
Alan Rosenberg, executive editor of The Providence Journal, responded by highlighting reporters’ work that he considers good and noting the millions of dollars the administration spends on public relations staff.
“If the governor has a hard time getting her point of view across, that’s pretty stunning, considering the 73 public-relations staffers on the state and state-college payroll, at a cost of $5.4 million annually,” he said in a statement, adding that the numbers were recently reported by the paper’s state house reporter Katherine Gregg.
Rosenberg had some advice for the administration: “More meat in the press releases, as opposed to contrived events celebrating the governor’s accomplishments, might help.”
Raimondo said in her apology that she values the media’s mission and the professionalism and dedication of the state’s press corps.