Rahm Emanuel recently berated a reporter from Politico for revealing what his vacation plans were for the year.
The tongue lashing further called into question Emanuel’s qualifications to hold the position of Chicago mayor, which he has held since 2011. More on that in a moment.
First, here’s exactly what happened, courtesy of Mediaite.
Apparently, Rahm Emanuel had engaged in a “private conversation” with the Politico reporter backstage prior to the pair’s interview.
In that conversation, Emanuel revealed that he would be traveling with his family to Cuba. When the reporter, Mike Allen, made mention of this in the public comments, Rahm lost it.
“Well, first of all, thanks for telling everyone what I’m going to do with my family,” Emmanuel said. “You just had a private conversation with me, and now you decided to make that public. I really don’t appreciate that. I really don’t.”
Allen was clearly taken off-guard by the reaction, claiming he “didn’t realize that wasn’t known.”
“You ask me, ‘What are you going to do this year,’ so I’m expressing to you now publicly my displeasure. My family’s trips are my family’s,” Emanuel said, before adding that his family vacationed “all around the world,” in an effort to immerse their children in different cultures.
“This year, if my wife doesn’t kill me now because of what you just did, we will take our kids to Cuba to be exposed to that culture,” he added.
To hammer home the point that he was angry at Allen, Emanuel asked him for his cell number. “Because I’d like you to listen to [my wife] Amy.”
“I apologize for that,” Allen countered sheepishly, to which Emanuel answered, “I don’t know if you know, it’s not going to work.”
Video of the incident from Politico can be seen below.
Now, where to begin with this? As a reporter with years of experience covering city politics, it’s interesting to me that Rahm Emanuel, mayor of one of the largest cities in the world, would think he had some inherent right to privacy when it came to disclosure of his vacation hotspots.
He’s not a dummy. As former White House Chief of Staff to President Barack Obama, he knows all about the demand for transparency in government and the relationship of politicians to reporters.
The American people know everywhere their President goes for vacation because they pay his salary. The same can be said for the people of Chicago. That attached string gives a reporter the right to ask any question in the interest of the public trust, however large or small.
On the topic of money, the Illinois Policy website reports that Rahm Emanuel currently makes $216,00o in annual salary thanks to his constituents, most of whom can’t afford to take vacations, period, let alone regular international vacations as Emanuel and his family do.
That’s not faulting Rahm for having the net worth to take said vacations, but it’s quite naïve for any public official receiving a $216,000 taxpayer-funded annual salary to think they’re absolved of that level of transparency.
To add to the layers of naïvety, Rahm Emanuel apparently assumed something he said to a Politico reporter wasn’t fair game.
Politicians and reporters have an understanding that one says nothing they want kept private without a healthy “off-the-record” warning prior to the words leaving their mouths.
The fact Emanuel doesn’t get this is amateurish and unrealistic, and it makes him come across as a petulant child.
Unfortunately, Allen folded like an accordion when Rahm started throwing his weight around. He would have been well within his rights to push back.
What do you think about the behavior of Rahm Emanuel in the video above? Sound off in the comments section.