From the 1988 Yes, Prime Minister Secretary of the Cabinet Sir Humphrey Appleby K.C.B "strictly confidential" diary, discovered ca. 1999 at a local library used-book sale:

How To Discredit an Unwelcome Report

Stage One: Refuse to publish in the public interest saying:

  • There are security considerations
  • The findings could be misinterpreted
  • You are waiting for the results of a wider and more detailed report which is still in preparation (if there isn't one, commission it; this gives you even more time)

Stage Two: Discredit the evidence you are not publishing, saying:

  • It leaves important questions unanswered
  • Much of the evidence is inconclusive
  • The figures are open to other interpretations
  • Certain findings are contradictory
  • Some of the main conclusions have been questioned (if they haven't, question them yourself; then they have)

Stage Three: Undermine the recommendations. Suggested phrases:

  • 'Not really a basis for long term decisions'
  • 'Not sufficient information on which to base a valid assessment'
  • 'No reason for any fundamental rethink of existing policy'
  • 'Broadly speaking, it endorses current practice'

Stage Four: Discredit the person who produced the report. Explain (off the record) that:

  • He is harbouring a grudge against the Department
  • He is a publicity seeker
  • He is trying to get a Knighthood/Chair/Vice Chancellorship
  • He used to be a consultant to a multinational
  • He wants to be a consultant to a multinational

To suppress an internal government report, rewrite it as official advice to the Minister. Then it is against the rules to publish it, so you can leak the bits you want to friendly journalists.

TopicHumor - TopicOrganizations - 2005-06-10

(correlates: OnLegalism, CoverUp, SicilianDefense, ...)