How to Deal With Leaks

author
Dr. Louis Perron
blog post louis

My post from last week about leaks (and other tools that the senior staff uses to control the top guy) seemed to have hit a nerve. Several of you asked me how I suggest dealing with leaks.

Well, there is no easy solution. At first, it’s important not to take it personal. As I wrote, most presidential administrations have experienced it. There were presidents that have tried to appeal to the conscience of the leakers. Other presidents and chief of staffs have tried a stricter approach in dealing with it. This means for example that people had to turn in their cell phones before talking to the president. I am not sure if that is really sustainable in the long run, however.

Then there is a more subtle way to fight back. When you talk to journalists yourself, describe the people you suspect of leaking as losing influence with the president. Politics is very hierarchical. Everybody around the president wants to be seen as close to the kitchen, as having the ear of the top guy. As a consequence, reading in the papers that you lose influence will hurt and thereby send a message.