Munger offers tips for dealing with the press

June 30, 2009 

Former gubernatorial candidate Mike Munger has some advice for his fellow academics: talk to reporters.

Munger, chairman of the political science department at Duke University, wrote a column in a recent issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education. His column urged academics to see reporters and their stories as a easy way to get their research some attention.

"There is no cheaper or more effective way for your institution, and your research, to have an impact," he wrote.

In that spirit, Munger offers some handy tips for would-be pundits.

One tip is to watch the flip comments.

Munger, a man who once said the Republican Party has a history of trotting out "circus clowns" as candidates, knows of what he speaks.

Who could forget his review of then-candidate Beverly Perdue's ads which he said "appeared to be designed to prove that she was once a child and had later had a series of unfortunate haircuts."

"Guess which of my comments made the air that night," he writes in his column.

Munger did later punk himself.

"I probably should have avoided criticizing someone else's haircuts," he wrote on his blog. "Since, I mean, NO ONE knows more about bad haircuts than I do."

Munger also advises academics to ignore the question:

"Many, many times, I have gotten a question, and I nod and then answer a completely unrelated question. I cover something I want to talk about, have prepared, and really know about. Surprisingly often, the reporter looks at the cameraman, they both nod, and say, 'Thanks, that's all we need.' "

Birthday wish for money

U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx turned 66 on Monday.

To celebrate, her husband wants you to write her a check. In an e-mail message to supporters, Tom Foxx suggested that a campaign contribution would make a perfect gift for his wife, a Banner Elk Republican.

"A few years ago I had the idea of surprising Virginia for her birthday by raising money for her re-election. It was such a success that I have continued to do it," Foxx wrote in his message.

Perhaps, $1 for every year of her life, he suggested.

Of course, when you follow the link to the donation page, suggested amounts also include $660, $1,066 and $2,066.

Tom Foxx assures supporters not to worry about all the focus on 66.

"As an elected official her information is publicly available so I won't be in trouble for revealing her age," he wrote.

N.C. on fence over Obama

Though North Carolina voters generally like President Barack Obama, they appear skeptical about his health care and energy proposals, according to a recent statewide poll.

The survey found that 44 percent of North Carolina voters had a favorable opinion of Obama's health care proposals, while 50 percent had an unfavorable opinion.

There was similar skepticism about Obama's energy proposals. The survey found that 44 percent had a favorable opinion, while 45 percent had an unfavorable opinion.

Obama remains more popular than some of his policies. The survey found that 50 percent had a favorable view of the president's job performance, compared with 37 percent who had an unfavorable view.

That is according to the first in a series of statewide surveys of Southern states conducted for the Southern Political Report.

The poll of 894 registered voters in North Carolina was conducted June 22 by Majority Opinion Research in Atlanta. It had a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points.

By staff writers Benjamin Niolet, Kevin Kiley and Rob Christensen

bniolet@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4521

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