What Not to Do When Being Profiled by the Media

Philippe Reines (pictured, at left) is Hillary Clinton's longtime adviser/ flack/ purse-toter. He's an inveterate gossip-spreader, self-promoter, and berater of reporters on behalf of his boss. And he loves to be recognized for his work! So the fact that Reines is profiled in the Washington Post today is not a surprise. What is a surprise: after all these years, Reines still has no idea how to not come off like an asshole.

1. Don't be profiled by people who have already developed a deep dislike of you.

Profiles serve different purposes for the media. They can be mindless space-fillers. They can be blowjobs that serve to ingratiate reporters with important figures on their beats. And, most importantly, they can be a perfect way for an angry reporter to take out his rage on someone he hates.

If you are asked to be the subject of a profile, and you know that the person or institution that wants to profile you already hates you, you must either 1) decline to participate, and write it off as creative differences, or 2) try to charm the writer so much that he changes his opinion of you somewhat. Philippe Reines was clearly very much disliked by the WaPo's Jason Horowitz (and many others!) before this profile ever came about. How can we tell? Well, various descriptions of Reines as a "self-promoting 41-year-old bachelor" with "an addiction to background dish, media recognition and proximity to power" who "no longer looks younger than his years" are subtle indicators.

You have to anticipate these things up front, Philippe Reines.

2. Don't try to write the profile yourself.

This is a common problem with egomaniacs. They may interpret "charm the writer" as "tell the writer, in detail, exactly what to write, because he will appreciate that, and you know better than the writer, anyhow." Philippe Reines seems to suffer from this delusion.

Even as he shipped out with Clinton to an Arctic summit in Greenland, he e-mailed his profiler: "Would it be helpful if I sent you random factoids, pieces of color? For instance, I don't ever drink D.C. tap water."

He then offered a series of bullet-point notes, including such information as "I take Pilates," "I walk to work" and "When I wear cuff-linked shirts, I wear a set that look like sink faucets, one's marked hot one's marked cold. It's a self-aware reflection that I can be both."

Philippe Reines is... The Most Interesting Man in the World. No, he's not.

3. Don't be an egg-sucking self promoter.

See, if you're going to go along with a profile by someone who already hates you, and you're unable to keep yourself from trying to write the damn thing for them, the very least you can do is to try to refrain—during the interviews for your profile—from engaging in the very sort of behavior that earned you your bad reputation in the first place. In Reines' case, that means cut down on the self-promotion.

In May 2007, when a spate of unauthorized biographies came out about Clinton, Reines nearly nullified them in one much-publicized quip: "Is it possible to be quoted yawning?"

"Killing books has always been a fun pastime," bragged Reines, who considers the quote his "Hall of Fame moment."

Well, he tried. No, he didn't.

[Washington Post; photo via Getty]