Note to the Trump-hating media: Just shut up and say, 'Thank you'

I once had a litigation funding client who'd asked for $100,000 to fund the costs of an appeal regarding proceeds from her family business.  A year went by after wiring her the money with no word of the case.

I needed to drive past her town for another meeting, so I arranged for us to meet over dinner.  There, she sobbed and babbled on of all the catastrophes which had come up, draining away the funds.

"Look," she said through tear-stained eyes, "what do you want me to do?"

Let me preface this by admitting that every female I've shared the story with has castigated me for it.

"Here's what I want you to do: I want you to shut up and say, 'Thank you.'  Because my partner and I are going to step in, hire real counsel, and fix this for you!"

Through her tears, she blinked and nodded in agreement.  Then she smiled and asked if I cared to go dancing with her.  Knowing  that I could have been the Harvey Weinstein of the legal funding industry, I begged off and went back, alone, to my hotel.

I think of this interchange each time I listen to President Trump's  updates on preparations for dealing with the coronavirus crisis.  The personal protective equipment and ventilators his team members are assembling for distribution to the various states.  The field hospitals his Army Corps of Engineers is building in New York, Chicago, and Louisiana.  The financial package his Treasury Department negotiated through Congress in less than a week.  The emergency approval his FDA has granted for off-label usage of hydroxychloroquine and other possibly life-saving therapies.

And so on.

Despite these advances on so many fronts, there are always several journalists in the crowd who come loaded only with gotcha questions.  Does your son-in-law know what he's doing?  Shouldn't you have reacted to this earlier?  It's the same questions, from the same folks, day after day.

If he were more eloquent, he might drive home the point that New York is woefully short of ventilators because it chose to spend the state and city treasuries on other matters.

If I were at the podium, I'd look these so-called journalists in the eyes and say, "What do I want you to do?  I want you to shut up and say 'Thank you.'"

Perhaps I missed it, but not one of these highly paid gatherers of facts asked the governors of New York and Michigan why they had sharply limited the use of hydroxychloroquine or failed to stock sufficient quantities of ventilators.

I, too, was a journalist for the first ten years after completing a Master's degree in economics.  Once I spent several days traveling with the re-election campaign of Ted Kennedy.  This was after the tragic death of Mary Jo Kopechne at Chappaquiddick.  I could have asked him what had really happened that night and whether he felt as if he had taken responsibility for it.

I didn't do that because I didn't want to spend two or three years working nights writing minor obits.

In case you're wondering about the woman and her case, my partner and I hired first-rate counsel, covered the cost of a forensic accounting of the business's books, and got an excellent settlement for her and a similar return on our investment.

It's productive some times to tell a counterpart to just shut up and say thanks.

Image: Ninian Reid via Flickr.