The Jack Flack Interview with A. Spokesman
As Jack Flack lingers in semi-retirement, a new observer of business spin emerges.
A. Spokesman recently began posting his commentary on his new website, claiming to illuminate “the said and the unsaid” of business news.
I secured an exclusive interview with Spokesman, who revealed why he looks the way he does, how he was inspired by a dog, and what’s so important about “the unsaid.”
Here’s the unedited transcript.
Jack Flack: Good morning. Thanks for talking with me today.
A. Spokesman: Good morning. Thank you for your interest. I was a big fan of your work when I was just getting started as a young spokesman.
JF: Uh, thanks. I think. Why are you standing behind a podium?
AS: Because I feel most comfortable standing behind a podium.
JF: You look kind of stiff.
AS: Thank you.
JF: Thank you?
AS: Before we get started, please be advised that today’s interview may include “forward looking statements” that are —
JF: What are you doing?
AS: Oh, sorry, that’s just a habit. Let’s go straight to your questions.
JF: I’m struck by how bland and boring you look. In fact, some have described your look as “corporate-generic-to-the-point-of-parody.”
AS: I’m sorry… is that a question?
JF: Just an observation.
AS: I take it as a compliment.
JF: You mean you actually like looking corporate-generic-to-the-point-of-parody?
AS: It’s the right look at this time.
JF: In fact, I’ve noticed that you never changed expression.
AS: It’s the right expression at this time.
JF: You keep saying, “At this time?”
AS: Always leave yourself a way out. Things can change.
JF: Ah, got it. But let’s call it what it is. You are illustrated the same exact same way every single time.
AS: No, I’m not illustrated the same way every time. I’m actually just the same illustration every time.
JF: I’m not sure I understand the distinction.
AS: I don’t change, but the words do.
JF: That sounds like a way to avoid labor costs. Did the idea come from McKinsey or BCG?
AS: No, it was inspired David Lynch. His The Angriest Dog in the World used the same art every week for a decade.
JF: Inspired? You mean you stole the concept.
AS: No. I am a spokesman, not a dog.
JF: Again, I’m not sure I understand the distinction.
AS: A spokesman is a human who stands on two legs and speaks on behalf of an institution.
AS: And a dog is a, uh, dog who stands on four legs and speaks only for himself, usually requesting treats or to be let outside.
JF: Got it. So you’re clearly not interested in how you look.
AS: I look entirely appropriate, which seems entirely appropriate.
JF: But why would anyone want to read a cartoon that never changes?
AS: As I stated earlier, my look never changes, but my words do.
JF: Ah, words. Sounds boring.
AS: At least my words will only bore you for 30 seconds or less. Your writings droned on forever. That Starbucks piece had to be 2,000 words long.
JF: It was only 1,688.
AS: I’m not going to comment on somebody else’s numbers. But in today’s world, that’s about 1,600 words too long.
JF: Hey, I put a lot of work into that piece.
AS: Exactly. And it was a lot of work to read it.
JF: Let’s move on. You claim that you illuminate “the said and the unsaid” of the story. What’s “the unsaid?”
AS: I can’t say.
AS: No, it’s a joke.
JF: Ah, right, I get it.
AS: Yes, I’m demonstrating playful affability in order to establish a disarming rapport with you. Is it working?
JF: Not really. Quit dodging the question. What is “the unsaid?”
AS: The “unsaid” is the real story that either the company won’t acknowledge or that the reporters won’t write. It’s the real story underneath the official story.
JF: I understand why companies sometimes won’t acknowledge the story, because the real story is often embarrassing for them. But why won’t reporters write the real story?
AS: Mainly because they are following the rules of responsible journalism. They know what’s going on, but they don’t have the full substantiation they need to write what they know. Or, sometimes, its because they don’t want to burn their relationships just for a single story.
JF: Why are you doing this? What’s your motivation?
AS: To create a smarter conversation about business news.
JF: That sounds like a corporate mission statement. Come on, why are you doing this?
AS: Let me put it a different way: Because it’s fun to tell the real story.
JF: OK, I can buy that. How often will you comment?
AS: I comment when there’s something worth commenting on. Most business news happens during workdays, so I generally take weekends off.
JF: Your critics have suggested that you —
AS: Sorry… but we only have time for just one more question. You, over there…
JF: Thank you for calling on me, but I’m the only one here. Can I finish my question?
AS: Yes, go ahead.
JF: Your critics have suggested that you simply mock corporations for speaking gibberish.
AS: My goal is to provide insight into the real story underneath the story that you read in your newsfeed. Sometimes that will, in fact, require mocking corporations for speaking gibberish. But often it will require saying what the company would like to say, but for some reason can’t.
JF: So, are you implying that —
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