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Connect to the Capitol: Raimondo clarifies negative remarks about RI media

A few days after making negative comments about Rhode Island media outlets, including NBC 10 News and The Providence Journal, Gov. Gina Raimondo clarified her remarks during an exclusive interview with Dan Jaehnig during the Connect to Capitol segment Thursday, Oct. 5, 2017. (WJAR){ }

A few days after making negative comments about Rhode Island media outlets, including NBC 10 News and The Providence Journal, Gov. Gina Raimondo clarified her remarks during an exclusive interview with Dan Jaehnig during the Connect to Capitol segment Thursday night.

“I do apologize,” the governor told Jaehnig. “You know, I went back and heard what I said and regret the words that I used. Look, I look forward to doing this every week. I especially look forward to getting the viewer questions and I think we have a good thing going. So, I think we should keep doing it. I plan to keep coming on every week and as we’ve talked about in the past, it’s important for people to hear directly from the governor and it’s important for me to hear directly from Rhode Islanders.”

Raimondo went on to say that “everybody makes mistakes and I think we have a good thing going and we should continue.”

But during a recent Q & A segment at Brown University, Raimondo said she's relying more on social media and spending a lot more time with "micro local media" in Rhode Island, singling out Connect to the Capitol.

"It started out, even when I started two years ago, as a nice back-and-forth, and now they call it going one-on-one with the governor, like it's all a fight, you know, motif," Raimondo said.

Raimondo was responding to a question from the audience about the dynamic between the media and politicians in the Trump era, and whether there's a lot of hyperbole and distraction from issues.

"It's almost impossible to get the news out," she said.

She initially offered an apology Wednesday in a statement obtained by NBC 10.

“Answering a question about political coverage at a student forum yesterday, I regret my characterization of Rhode Island’s media outlets and apologize to reporters, editors and publishers who I offended,” Raimondo noted. “I deeply value the importance of the media’s mission and the professionalism and dedication of Rhode Island’s press corps.”

Still, Jaehnig wanted to know what motivated her to speak out against Connect to the Capitol.

“I thought everything was going great with the segment and then I woke up yesterday and heard the comments you made at Brown University,” Jaehnig asked the governor, also adding that her comments sounded like it came from the heart. “When you apologized, you apologized if it offended any of us in the local media outlets, but did you mean what you said? Do you believe what you said…in that it was a fight motif?”

The governor said her answer is “no.” Rather, she said she simply meant that the media industry has changed.

“The Internet’s changed the game. Social media’s changed the game. And so, we’re always looking for different and more ways to communicate with people and I think we can all agree with that. But I think this segment is actually very special. Not a lot of governor’s do it and I’m happy that we are able to do it every week and talk directly to people.”

Raimondo went on to say that she understands that there’s “a greater pressure in the media to hype things up.” But she added that what she and Jaehnig have accomplished on the segment is valuable to her, as well as voters.

“We hear directly from viewers on specific issues in their lives and it gives me a chance to interact with folks and hear what’s really on people’s minds. And I actually think that’s a terrific thing, which is why I make the time – happily – to do it every week.

Scott Isaacs, who is NBC 10’s news director, previously said that the station's weekly segment gives viewers direct access to their elected officials, and most questions for Raimondo come from voters. He expects Raimondo to participate in Thursday's segment.

"We would not be doing our jobs if we did not ask the governor tough questions about the decisions she makes in office," he said.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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