Ethics – everyone draws the line in a different place. As a campaign or government spokesman, you are faced with such questions often. If it’s a policy debate, often you can put your own views aside because you are not the one who was elected and you signed on to explain your principal's views. Your job is to defend his or her views. On the other hand, when it comes to flat-out lying for your principal, you have to think hard. When it comes to defending a principal who is lying, you have to draw a line.
Ethics, and “the line,” are very personal topics. No one is right or wrong. It’s right for you. Anthony Weiner’s chief of staff resigned after the candidate lied twice about his behavior. One time you can forgive, twice, well that’s where his chief of staff drew the line. The Politico piece also makes the point that many political staffers now worry as much about their “brand” as their boss. Personally, I always worried about my reputation, not my brand (unless you want to say they are one in the same – which I don’t. As an old boss of mine once said, “you can create an image but you have to earn a reputation.”)
As the spokesman for anyone (political, corporate, personal), all you have is your credibility. As soon as your credibility is going on the line, you have to think about how far you’re going to go. At least that’s how I viewed it during my spokesman years. Once I lost credibility, I lost the ability to do my job. Reporters (whose trust you are seeking when you’re a spokesman, while still protecting your principal) know the difference between a putting the best face on your information and lying.
It is often a fine line, I know, but knowing the difference is what makes an effective spokesman.