Category: PR Train Wrecks

“Invariably, when people read the headline about Martin Shkreli, they hate Martin Shkreli. When they get to know Martin Shkreli, they love Martin Shkreli.” – Martin Shkreli on Twitter

“He (Shkreli) needs to be mythical. He needs to be larger than life. He needs to be a rags-to-riches story. That image is his mansion. His Maserati.” – Assistant U.S. Attorney Jacquelyn Kasulis

Martin Shkreli will be celebrating his 35th birthday next Saturday … behind bars.

Earlier, he labeled his federal prosecutors as the “junior varsity.” The JV team won.

His final destination will not be “Club Fed” as Shkreli once boasted on Twitter.

The sentence is seven years in prison with credit for the six months already served, and a $7.4 million fine.

Last month, CNBC dedicated its season debut of “American Greed” to Martin Shkreli. It was a personal branding and reputation management horror show, plain and simple.

There are zero public relations pros — regardless of their years of experience and skill – who could have saved Martin Shkreli from … himself.

No one loves Martin Shkreli – maybe with the exception of Martin Shkreli.

Among his litany of sins – the always smirking, taunting, arrogant Martin Shkreli — violated the cardinal rule of public relations (as if he ever weighed his own PR):

The most important public relations of all … is personal PR.

Former hedge-fund Wunderkind/drug-price fixer Shkreli received a seven year sentence for three counts of securities fraud.


His attorneys fought against a full 15-year sentence recommended by the U.S. Attorney, arguing he reportedly should not receive the maximum simply because he is … Martin Shkreli.

Shkreli long ago lost in the courtrooms of public opinion, where he was convicted for being … as the Brits would say, an arse.

For some reason, he refused to even acknowledge the myriad of societal stop signs, which constrain mere mortals. Even on Capitol Hill when he was taking the 5th (Amendment), he was even taunting Members of Congress with his characteristic smirk, and later insulted them on social media.

And today there is a worldwide breakout of Schadenfreude. We are all happy, including Almost DailyBrett, that Martin Shkreli is so sad.

Bringing The Donald and Hillary Together

“That guy is nothing. He’s zero. He’s nothing. He ought to be ashamed of himself.” – Donald Trump

“He still hasn’t said how much the drug will cost going forward, and in the meantime, sick patients still have to wait and worry and continue to pay $750/pill. So Mr. Shkreli, what’s it going to be?” – Hillary Clinton

“If there was a company that was selling an Aston Martin at the price of a bicycle, and we buy that company and we ask to charge Toyota prices, I don’t think that that should be a crime.” – Martin Shkreli on raising the price of Daraprim by 5,000 percent

Martin Shkreli performed magic during the divisive 2016 presidential campaign; he managed to bring Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton into an one-time agreement.

He defrauded his MSMB Capital investors, and raised the price of AIDS drug, Daraprim, from $13.50 to $750 per pill.

With his indefensible actions Shkreli also indicted the entire American pharmaceutical industry, leaving the impression that every company was gauging patients with unjustifiable drug price increases. Some are guilty. Some are innocent.

Eventually, Shkreli called upon his social media followers to steal a lock of Hillary Clinton’s hair as a bounty. He subsequently lost his $5 million bail, and was remanded to jail in Brooklyn.

Shkreli’s attorneys were hoping for a 12-18 month sentence. Federal prosecutors were asking for 15 years or even more. The judge played the sentence right down the middle: seven years.

The reality of jail and the prospect of more than one decade in prison seemed to make an overdue impression on Shkreli.

“There is no conspiracy to take down Martin Shkreli. I took down Martin Shkreli, with my disgraceful and shameful actions … This is my fault. I am not a victim here.” – Martin Shkreli at his March 9 sentencing.

Did Shkreli finally listen to his lawyers?

Was his statement before the judge, and by extension the world, written by a public relations counselor?

Did he in the end, get religion?

Too little, too late Martin.



“I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works.”

“It’s not a mere threat, but a reality that I have a nuclear button on the desk in my office.”

Almost DailyBrett quiz question: Which quote was uttered by North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, and which one was tweeted by Donald Trump?

Both quotes appear to be almost identical, except one obviously followed the other. Sounds like two testosterone-enhanced males comparing the size of their “buttons.” And what are the consequences of these intemperate remarks?

Does it really matter? Ask the Hawaiians.

Where and when did we hear the quote before: “This is not a drill”?

Hawaii has been infamously bombed before. Just yesterday, the entire State of Hawaii was contemplating nuclear annihilation, collectively kissing themselves good bye.

The “Oops” moment in the Aloha State capped a week filled with public discussion of sphincter-aperture countries, a potentially paid off porn actress, and even Oprah running for president.


And that is only for one week.

It used to be the four-letter, s-word was verboten on the pages of our family newspapers and by means of FCC regulations of our air waves. Now the word, shithole, is freakin’ everywhere.

The media, particularly the 24-7-365 talking heads on your affirmational media of choice (i.e., CNN, Fox News, MSNBC), are seizing upon each newest outrage.

Wasn’t “Sloppy” Steve Bannon, “out of his mind”?

Was that “Fire and Fury” last week or the week before? Hard to keep track.

One outrage begets the next outrage. Are we as a society becoming increasingly numb to non-stop outrage?

Is everything coming out of the White House an outrage, and then the knee-jerk media response to the outrage … or does it seem that way?

Four presidents (e.g., #41, #42, #43, #44) called for Jerusalem to be recognized as Israel’s capital. Trump did the same, and that constitutes an outrage. The unstable Middle East will become more … unstable. Outrageous.

Is the media obligated to bloviate about every outage? And when they do, is the result more outrage following outrage?

How do we turn down the temperature as a society?

Does the media want to turn down the thermostat when glaring headlines are good for ratings and readership?

Media Treatment of Black and Brown Countries

“If the earth had an anus, it would be located in Yemen.” – Best Selling author Nelson DeMille, The Panther.

“In the storm of mainstream anger, it is hypocritical of the media to fail to reckon with and correct its own practices of reporting on black and brown countries and how this coverage affects perceptions about very real people.”—Karen Attiah, Washington Post Global Opinions editor

Is Trump saying out loud, what many people in-and-out of the media (not all, of course) have been thinking for years?

Karen Attiah in her piece in the Washington Post reminded the Fourth Estate that its ledger is not exactly clean, when it comes to derogatory characterizations about Third World locales.

And yet they are the first to yell and screen about Trump’s alleged “shithole country” remarks. How do we know these exact words were uttered? U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) said they were genuine.

Does Senator Durbin have a competing political agenda? Does that matter?

Former George H.W. Bush was roundly criticized for being out of touch, when he was amazed that supermarkets used scanners at the checkout counter. He failed to secure re-election.

In contrast, Trump by contrast seemingly has something outrageous to say about every topic.

Will we all be exhausted by this never-ending stream of controversy by 2020?

Or will we accept that outrage du jour is the new norm in American life?

Does it have to be this way?


“There are three things that can happen on a forward pass – and two of them are bad.” – Texas Coach Darrell Royal

Wish it was that simple.

Did the ball “survive the ground?”

Did the ball “move?”

Did the receiver have “control?”

Did the receiver complete the “catch?”

Did the receiver have both feet in bounds?

Did he drag his back foot … but was the first one already on the chalk?

Does “one knee equal two feet?”

What is a “catch” anyway?

Better check with the video dudes/dudettes in New York. Is there “indisputable visual evidence” to overturn the call on the field?

And while we are waiting through 120 seconds worth of commercials, we come back and find out … the video review has not been completed.

Time for a “shot clock” for video reviews? If the review can’t be completed in one minute, then let the call stand.

Glad nothing else stops the flow of the game.

Orgy of Penalty Flags

Marcus Peters of the Kansas City Chiefs threw a penalty flag into the stands.

He was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct and removed from the game for his reaction to the yellow hanky.

Heck, Peters was just as frustrated and frosted by the number of penalties during a game as anyone else. The good thing is the fan, who caught the flag, was last seen taking selfies with his BROS.

The median number of penalty flags thrown during the regular season of the NFL was 13.2 per game, including on virtually every punt and kick return.

The Carolina Panthers drew the league low 5.2 penalties per game. The Seattle Seahawks were the highest, penalized 9.2 times each Sunday.

Thirteen-plus penalties per game come on top of a seemingly non-ending series of video reviews to ascertain the proper spot on the field, let alone determining what is and what is not a catch.

And even with all these penalties, there is no such thing as a “targeting” penalty in an era in which the number of concussions is exploding?

What is wrong with this league?

The NFL has created this monster, and now it needs to solve it in the face of flagging ratings (love the pun) and empty seats in overpriced stadiums. Who is going to pay for Jon Gruden’s $100 million salary?

The average fan has to devote upwards of four hours to watch a game. Life is too short.

If the author of Almost DailyBrett  had only 10 minutes to live, he would want it to be timed by the NFL …  That way he would have time for at least two microbrews before visiting St. Peter.

Guess what: 10 minutes in the NHL is very close to … 10 minutes. Ditto for World Cup soccer, even though “stoppage time” may be added. The NBA rivals the NFL in stoppages as a result of each team being given 10 time outs per quarter (slight exaggeration)

It would be helpful if one had an advanced degree in jurisprudence before watching an NFL game. It seems the league is searching for procedural perfection with its orgy of penalty flags and video reviews.

Is there sufficient “preponderance of evidence” present before we can move from first to second down? Time for an up-to-the-booth review brought to us by Microsoft Surface.

Does Microsoft really want to be associated with these maddening, endless video reviews?

Wasn’t the original purpose of instant replay to guard against game-changing “egregious” mistakes?

It used to be a passed football was complete, intercepted, overthrown, underthrown, dropped or trapped. And yes, there was the necessity for two feet down in-bounds in the NFL, and only one-foot down in college.

But that’s not good enough. Now we have to debate whether the ball survived the ground even though the receiver is five-yards, out-of-bounds before gravity kicks in.

It used to be the NFL’s overreliance on field goals was the reason the league was a boring counterpart to college football. That was before the explosion of penalties, reviews and “Dilly-Dilly” commercials.

Maybe with a little less emphasis on procedural perfection, the NFL can reverse the tide and its ratings can survive the ground.


“Another reason that I’m going to win another four years is because newspapers, television, all forms of media will tank if I’m not there because without me, their ratings are going down the tubes.” – President Donald Trump interview With the New York Times

Is there a difference between Journalism as a profession, and Journalism as a business?

And when push comes to shove, which side wins?

According to research firm mediaQuant,  Trump received a record advertising equivalent of $4.96 billion in earned media coverage from legacy/digital pubs/networks during the course of his campaign compared to $3.24 billion for Hillary Clinton.

That’s a $1.72 billion delta in favor of Trump-the-entertainer-turned-president for those scoring at home.

Four years earlier, Barack Obama garnered $1.1 billion in advertising equivalent coverage even with the bully pulpit of the White House. His challenger Mitt Romney generated only $700 million in earned media.

Almost DailyBrett must humbly ask: Does the media have a vested interest in Trump’s presidency, even though the vast majority of reporters, editors, pundits and correspondents detest him?


The Journalism as a Profession crowd waxes nostalgic about the Jeffersonian quote: “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.”

And yet Trump is catnip for reporters, editors, pundits and correspondents. They may grind their collective teeth, particularly because of his usurpation of Agenda Setting with his in-your-face comments, immediate rejoinders, and nocturnal tweets.

The Journalism as a Business side reflects the obvious fact that Disney runs ABC News; Comcast operates NBC and MSNBC; Viacom manages CBS; Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox is the patriarch of the Wall Street Journal and Fox News; and CNN is the property of Time Warner.

These elite media are all run by publicly traded companies with corresponding fiduciary obligations to their shareholders: NASDAQ: CMCSA (NBC and MSNBC); NYSE: DIS (ABC), NASDAQ: FOXA (Fox News and Wall Street Journal); NYSE: NYT (New York Times); NYSE: TWX (CNN), and NASDAQ: VIAB (CBS).

Does the Trump outrage du jour feed a greater public interest in news and politics, thus driving up coverage, ratings, impressions and most of all, legal tender?

You bet ya.

Elite Media For Trump in 2020?

“So they (elite media) basically have to let me win. And eventually, probably six months before the election, they’ll be loving me because they’re saying, ‘Please, please, don’t lose Donald Trump.’ O.K.” – Donald Trump in the same New York Times interview

The talking heads on Meet the Depressed, Deface the Nation, This Week, let alone the partisans on CNN and MSNBC, will categorically deny they have a vested financial interest in Donald Trump’s ascendancy.

Deep down they want to bring him down to a crashing end (similar to Nixon in 1974) and provide wall-to-wall interpretive coverage of the carnage.

The result 43 years ago was Gerald Ford. The outcome this year would be Mike Pence. The “Bleeds It Leads” culture can tolerate virtually anything, except boredom.

Donald Trump provides the legacy and digital media outlets with unprecedented 24-7-365 outrage.  They are pontificating, bloviating and expecting only the worst from the Donald. Consider the projection from the “economist” below:

“If the question is when markets will recover, a first-pass answer is never.” – New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, the day after Trump’s victory.

In 2017, the benchmark S&P 500 finished up 22.46 percent; The Dow Jones, increased 25.08 percent and the tech/life sciences NASDAQ advanced, 27.09 percent.

Want to take along Krugman to Vegas?

More to the point” Wanna bet that all publicly traded media companies, owning America’s elite media, also recorded positive years benefitting their shareholders?

To top it off, their respective corporate tax rates were reduced from 35 percent to 21 percent as of yesterday.

And best of all for elite media, there is little doubt that Trump will continue to be “good copy” for months and years to come.

Is Donald Trump the gift that keeps on giving?

“In seeking truth you have to get both sides of a story.” – Walter Cronkite, CBS anchor from 1962-1981

When asked what sports historians would take away from his record (e.g., five home runs) performance in the 1977 World Series, Baseball Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson paused and humbly proclaimed: “The magnitude of me.”

What about the “magnitude” of former CBS anchor Dan Rather?

The question is particularly relevant today as former CBS anchor Dan Rather is attempting a relevancy comeback at 86-years-old.

With his new book, “What Unites Us, Reflections on Patriotism,” Rather appears to be trying to escape the embarrassing details of his bitter 2005 termination … err resignation.

More to Almost DailyBrett’s point: Should Rather be seen as The Father of Affirmational Journalism?

Affirmational Journalism? Do these two words constitute an oxymoron?

Affirmational Journalism (e.g., Rather) is the mirror opposite of Informational Journalism (e.g., Cronkite).

Under the tenets of Informational Journalism, a news outlet will sift through the relevant facts and information – including both sides of every story — and deduce a logical conclusion for readers or viewers to decide.

Is there any wonder that Walter Cronkite was the most trusted man in America in 1972?

The esteem for American Journalism peaked in 1976 at 72 percent (e.g., Gallup survey), shortly after Woodward and Bernstein’s Pulitzer Prize reporting and the demise of the Nixon administration. The same poll revealed that public trust for the media plummeted for four decades to 32 percent in 2016.

What happened to the days when the vital First Amendment mission of the media was to inform and enlighten?

Enter Rather as the successor to Cronkite in the CBS anchor chair in 1981. Shortly thereafter, the seeds of today’s Affirmational Journalism were planted.

Certainly, there were outlets in 1972 and beyond that editorially represented the left (e.g., New York Times) and the right (e.g., Wall Street Journal), but the news pages of these publications were essentially straight.

Rather: Keynoting the GOP National Convention?

“(Rather) stepped on his own dick.” – Ronald Reagan, 1988

Two celebrated incidents involving Republican presidents (not Democratic) clearly demonstrated how Rather’s aim was to “affirm” preset narratives, not to totally “inform:”

  1. His rudeness against then Vice President George H.W. Bush in a cataclysmic 1988 live interview, which included Bush reminding the world that Rather stormed off his set one year before, when a U.S. Open tennis match ran too long.
  2. Rather’s ill-fated 2004 60 Minutes piece (e.g., Rathergate), confusing the fonts of an IBM Selectric with those offered by Microsoft. The forged 1972 document reportedly proved that President George W. Bush received special treatment as a member of the National Guard. Alas for Rather, the letter was written with a Microsoft font.

Microsoft was not founded until 1975 – three years later. Oops.

Dan Rather was exposed for his eagerness and glee to accept any “fact” that fit a preordained narrative about George W. Bush and his National Guard service. More importantly, he and his producer, Mary Mapes, were terminated at CBS for practicing Affirmational Journalism, which sought out tidbits (e.g., the forged letter) that affirmed and fit the story and excluding those (e.g., Microsoft font) that did not.

Rather’s mission was to “affirm” through selective reporting the predisposed reigning political philosophy of elites residing east of the Hudson and within the confines of the Beltway:

Democrat John Kerry was good; Republican George W. Bush needed to be excused from office.

Today, the list of affirmational elite media on the left is long: New York Times, Washington Post, NBC, CBS, CNN, and MSNBC. The list of affirmational media on the right is shorter: Fox News.

Whether these major media outlets reside on the left or the right, their mission is to affirm, sustain and enhance entrenched narratives that advance a chosen political philosophy.

Is Dan Rather solely responsible for this movement toward affirming, whether through interpretation or presenting, preordained narratives? No. There are others.

Is he the poster child for affirmational journalism and with it a record 32 percent low in national esteem for the media? Almost DailyBrett is making that assertion.

Affirmational Journalism Schools?

As a college assistant professor in a school of communication, the author of Almost DailyBrett worries that future journalists will be trained to seek facts and figures that fit a preconceived narrative, and ignore those inconvenient points that potentially contradict the “story.”

Are the ends of supporting an adopted political philosophy more important than the means of not presenting both sides of a story? If that is indeed the case and we are no longer informing the public about the positions of both sides, can we call this behavior Journalism?

There are some of us who yearn for the better days of a free-and-fair media.  The Fourth Estate can potentially come back; just the same way Rather is trying to revive his tarnished reputation.

Can the media return to the days of Informational Journalism? Or is Affirmational Journalism here to stay, contributing to and hardening our divided society for years to come?

Maybe if the media moves to adopt the model of Walter Cronkite — not Dan Rather — we will all be better off as an American society.

We can only hope.

The male of the species has never been the best when it comes to personal public relations.

The seemingly never-ending list of creepy, predatory men (e.g., Harvey Weinstein, Anthony Weiner, Al Franken, Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, Dustin Hoffman, Kevin Spacey, Bill Clinton, Donald Trump …) represents the classic definition of a story with legs.

No pun intended.

When will this litany of abuses end?

One thing is for certain, not anytime soon.

The series of lurid and accurate stories of lustful men with next-to-zero self-discipline have resulted in pain, anguish and ruined careers for literally thousands-and-thousands of women.

These awful accounts go beyond the world of politics to include entertainment (e.g., casting couches), jurisprudence, business, military and many other human endeavors, bringing the two genders together.

The resulting anger from the fairer gender, justifiably directed toward males en banc, is warranted.

Having fully appreciated, comprehended and acknowledged the anguish and suffering inflicted on way too many women by way too many men, Almost DailyBrett wants to bravely make one statement, and then duck for cover:

Not All Men Are Creeps, it just may seem that way.

Seemingly absent in this public discussion are the guys who are – believe it or not — semper fi.

There are the men who are 100 percent faithful to the vows they made in marriage. Almost DailyBrett actually knows one of these kind souls.

There are men who are respectful of women, and do not even entertain the thought of using any influence to extract (e.g., sexual) favors from women.

There are men, who would never lay a paw on any woman for any reason (referring to professional settings). There is a time and place for everything.

As Henry Kissinger once said: No one will ever win the battle of the sexes; there’s too much fraternizing with the enemy.”

There are the men who can instinctively sense the dread of a single woman riding an elevator with a lone male. The man may move toward the door, allowing the woman to shift to a position behind him. When the designated floor arrives, he should be a gentleman, holding the door open, and maybe even wishing his travelling companion an absolutely fantabulous day.

Most of all there are actual men who do not think below their waist, but actually use their real brains (gasp) to distinguish between what is right and what is wrong.

An Office Door With No Window?

Touring our new office space this past winter, your author noticed to his horror that our new academic caves featured doors with no windows. No bueno. Nicht gut. Hell, no.

When asked, a rocket scientist from Facilities said there were zero dollars for door windows. Time to go to the mat.

There was absolutely no way I was going to teach public relations and meet with students, if I could not shut my door but at the same time the outside world could not see inside. To yours truly, this was matter of safety and common sense.

Your author today has a door with a window, but not one that can be locked from the inside (e.g., Lauer).

When it comes to the all-too-common “he said, she said” disputes, the one making the accusation can win, and the one on the receiving end may be on the downward slide to the end of a once promising career.

What are some common sense behaviors that good men should employ in this ultra-charged political climate?

  1. Never, ever touch a member of the fairer gender anywhere for whatever reason at any time in a professional setting. On your author’s last day after eight years working for the California Office of the Governor, my female colleagues gave me a hug … not the other way around.
  2. Never comment on the appearance of women (e.g., hair, dress, jewelry …). Former National Semiconductor CEO Brian Halla once took verbal notice that a Bloomberg TV reporter was wearing her wedding ring on her right ring finger …  Halla was then informed that her late spouse perished in the World Trade Center on September 11.
  3. John Madden has a rule: He will never say in private, what he wouldn’t say in public. Guys, it’s past time to deep six the sexual jokes and comments even among fellow knuckle draggers. Let the locker room be a simple place for showering, changing and talking sports. Period.
  4. The rules of sexual harassment are clear. Quid pro quo is obvious. When you are asked to stop … STOP!
  5. Former ABC correspondent Lynn Sheer suggested the universal adoption of a standard phrase, “That’s NOT okay.” Even bystanders can even use this same phrase when sexual harassment is in progress.

This common sense phrase should even be comprehended and immediately understood by all men, not just semper fi guys.

The latter, exist. Seriously.



“I’m in favor of progress; it’s change I don’t like” – Mark Twain

The College Football Playoff is change; it’s not progress.


Instead it has become a shameless vehicle for ESECPN to proclaim the winner of a four-team playoff among the SEC, ACC and maybe the Big-12 as the “national” champion.

If Alabama doesn’t even capture its own division, let alone play and win the Southern Eastern Conference championship … macht nichts … then just place Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide in the College Football Playoff anyway!

What’s the purpose of conference championships?

USC wins the Pac-12 title on a Friday night. Who cares? It’s what happens on the next day that matters.

Ohio State wins the Big 10 title the next day, easily beating previously undefeated Wisconsin. That achievement should matter, until it doesn’t matter.

We all knew when there are five “Power” conferences, and only four playoff slots, one champion would be the odd man out, and not invited to the party.

But two conference champions not being selected to pave the way for two SEC teams to be anointed for the playoff … that’s highway robbery and every other metaphor of outrage that applies.

Clint Eastwood as “Dirty Harry” once opined that opinions are similar to sphincters, everyone has one.

With this introduction here are the dispassionate thoughts from an admitted Pac-12 supporter (i.e., USC undergrad, Oregon post-grad), the author of Almost DailyBrett:

If the Pac-12 is annually dismissed by the Pharisees at ESECPN, and our champion, USC at 11-2, is not even taken seriously for the College Football Playoff …

… And this year, the Big Ten champion, Ohio State 11-2, is also summarily deemed unworthy of the College Football Playoff, then let’s do something radical:

Go back to the good ole days.

The Pac-12 and the Big Ten champions play in The Granddaddy of Them All®, the Rose Bowl.

Yep, let’s celebrate a classic rematch of USC vs. Ohio State playing each other on New Year’s Day.

That’s way it was, and that’s how it should be.

The Granddaddy of Them All®

Oklahoma vs. Georgia in the Rose Bowl, gag me with the proverbial spoon.

The Sooner Schooner being paraded down Colorado Blvd., while UGA does his business in the bushes? Give me a break.

With the BSC followed by the College Football Playoff, we can now conclude college football has taken a huge step backwards.

Consider when Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota and Oregon blew out Florida State 59-20, ending the Seminoles 30-game winning streak and holding the 2015 Rose Bowl Trophy.

Was that a reason for passionate celebration for the Pac-12 champion? Well no, because there was another game.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Rose Bowl is the game. The author of Almost DailyBrett grew up 20 minutes away from Pasadena. Didn’t want to meet my maker without the Ducks once playing in the Rose Bowl, let alone winning it.

The College Football Playoff Doesn’t Work

We all know now the College Football Playoff doesn’t work.

Expanding it to eight games, just means more slots for SEC and ACC teams.

The Pac-12 and Big Ten should pull out of this monstrosity.

January 2, 2012; Pasadena, CA, USA; Oregon Ducks running back De’Anthony Thomas (6) runs the ball against the Wisconsin Badgers during the second half during the 2012 Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-US PRESSWIRE

The two conferences should reestablish their exclusive with the Tournament of Roses, having their respective champions play on New Year’s Day.

If ESECPN wants to televise a “playoff” featuring the best-and-the-brightest of teams from the former Confederate States, go for it. Just pour some moonshine and scream “Go Bama, Go!”

Whattya think Rece “Bama” Davis? Concur Jesse “Gator” Palmer? Ditto David “Between the Hedges” Pollack?

For me, it’s time to go back to the Rose Bowl.

USC should be playing Ohio State in the historic Rose Bowl on New Year’s Day in Pasadena, California, not in the Cotton Bowl in Arlington Texas on December 29.

The playoff change did not work.

It’s progress to go back to the Rose Bowl.

“My finger said what I was feeling, I’m angry and I’m frustrated.” – Former Marketing and Communications professional Juli Briskman

TOPSHOT – A woman on a bike gestures with her middle finger as a motorcade with US President Donald Trump departs Trump National Golf Course October 28, 2017 in Sterling, Virginia. / AFP PHOTO / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

As we all know: You cannot yell “Theatre!” in a crowded fire station.

There are indeed reasonable limits to our cherished First Amendment Right of Free Speech.

As an employee of any organization, one instinctively knows that not all speech is protected.

When are you on the clock working for the boss?

And when are you on your own time?

Is there a distinction (without a difference?)? Are they one-and-the-same?

Last month, Juli Briskman went out for a Saturday bike ride. During the course of her ride, she encountered a convoy of limousines and secret service protection. It was indeed the caravan of the 45th President of the United States.

Briskman utilized the opportunity from the bike lane to give the occupant the infamous one-finger salute.

As another sign of our digital 21st Century times, the photo of her gesture went viral. After becoming a 15-minute-plus celebrity, Briskman reportedly posted her middle-finger image on her Facebook and Twitter accounts.

As it turns out her employer, a federal contractor by the name of Akima LLC, found her gesture toward POTUS neither funny nor amusing. Briskman claimed she was just a simple bike rider on her own time flipping off the president.

Akima, located in an employment-at-will state (e.g., Virginia), quickly made the decision to fire Briskman for twice-at-least posting her single-digit salute to the nation’s chief executive on social media.

Considering the divisiveness of today’s politics, the coverage of her gesture/firing quickly became big-time news for affirmational journalists. GoFundMe reportedly even raised $30,000 to support Briskman, bringing into question whether subsequent coarsening-of-America actions will become charitable giving opportunities?

Still the basic interrogative needs to be answered: Are you really on your own time and as a result able to express yourself however/whenever you want, when you are employed on an at-will basis?

Pleasure Appointment

Five years ago, the author of Almost DailyBrett wrote about his “No Second Beer Rule,” reflecting on his tenure as a lead media spokesman/Press Secretary for California Governor George Deukmejian.

As a “Pleasure Appointee” of the 35th Governor of the State of California, yours truly never separated my official role in the Office of the Governor from my personal life. They were essentially one-and-the-same for eight years.

Many times media calls came in the middle of the night. Here’s where the no two-beer rule came into play: If I was quoted while under the influence and subsequently uttered a major gaffe, there is little doubt the governor would have relieved me from my duties.

Worse if I was pulled over for DUI, your author would NOT be just another irresponsible sap arrested for drunk driving. Instead, one can easily envision the headlines: “Governor Deukmejian Press Secy Arrested for DUI.”

There is absolutely no distinction in this case between private citizen/government employee in a sensitive job working for the governor of the largest state in the union.

Yours truly would have been immediately terminated with cause by the former attorney general and would understand completely why my foolish actions led to my dismissal. It was truly a privilege to serve the governor, and with that opportunity came a sacred responsibility.

There would not be any $30,000 support payment for me.


I’m an IAC employee and I don’t want @JustineSacco doing any communications on our behalf ever again. Ever.” – Unnamed IAC employee responding Justine Sacco’s tweet

Justine Sacco had it made.

At 30-years-young, she was the senior director of Corporate Communications for InterActiveCorp (NASDAQ: IAC), a $3 billion+ internet and media services company with more than 100 recognizable brands (i.e., The Daily Beast,, Vimeo, Angie’s List …).

During the 2013 holidays, Sacco was flying from JFK with a stop at Heathrow and then continuing on to Cape Town, South Africa. She was firing off acerbic tweets about English teeth and German body odor during her trip. And then she hit the send button on an immediately viral, less-than-140 characters tweet, which changed her life forever.

Sacco was terminated before her plane landed in Cape Town. She slept during the course of her 11-hour flight from London to Cape Town with her phone in “airplane” mode.  She did not understand the consequences of her tweet until she turned on her phone.

As a college professor teaching public relations, advertising, corporate communications and investor relations, my students are simply stunned when Sacco’s PowerPoint slide of her tweet is first presented.

Was she simply not thinking? Was she trying to be cute or clever? Is she, racist?

The answer to the first is certainly, yes. The response to the second is, most likely. The fact the third question is even asked in a serious vain is damning in-and-of itself.

She may have been on a holiday trip to South Africa and may have seen herself as simply exercising her guaranteed First Amendment Rights as a citizen. Nonetheless, she was the senior director of Corporate Public Relations for a major publicly traded company and she fired off an acerbic and insensitive tweet that comes across as racist and not caring about the spread of AIDS in Africa.

InterActiveCorp was well within its rights in terminating Justine. In fact, the company really had no choice.

Maybe if she had just flipped off the President of the United States, she may still be working for IAC today … or maybe not.

Alas, life is just not fair.





It was the agony of defeat … over and over again.

All throughout the garbage-time fourth quarter in South Bend, the voyeuristic NBC cameras kept focusing on the deadpan face of an obviously hurting 20-year-old college student.

He was anything Saturday but “So Good, So Cool, So Cal.”

The Associated Press pointed out that USC has already turned over the ball 19 times in eight games, emphasizing that 16 of these were committed by quarterback Sam Darnold.

There will be no all-expense-paid trip to New York in December.

Someone else will receive the Heisman.

There will be better days for Sam Darnold, maybe this coming weekend in Tempe.

He will celebrate his 21st birthday next June 5.

As a college professor, who once roamed the sidelines as a student football manager for both USC and Oregon in the mid-1970s, Almost DailyBrett must ask:

Are pre-season Heisman Trophy hype campaigns launched by university athletic departments/sports information offices in the best interest of a college-student/athlete, who is not old enough to legally order a beer?

Is the young stud ready for the plethora of writers, camera lenses, microphones and fawning stories? The media is absolutely superb at building up a celebrity; the beast is even better at crashing the new hero down to earth and stomping on him.

Some may contend these premature campaigns draw national media attention that carries over to the season and may lead to holding up the most famous stiff-arm in all of sports.

USC athletes need extra media attention in the second largest television market in the country?

Almost DailyBrett wonders whether more times than naught these athletic departments are setting up these young people, students at their school – most not ready for the limelight – for failure by the jury-judge-executioner media (e.g., MSESPN).

Believe it or not, these kids have to go to school, attend classes, submit papers, work on projects and take exams (okay, maybe not the University of North Carolina basketball team).

Your author knows as much as any other writer, how a mere university cannot control the Fourth Estate. If the folks in Bristol, Connecticut or Sports Illustrated wish to build up their list of Heisman candidates before the season starts, who is going to stop them?

Cats are easier to herd.

Halloween and The First CFP Rankings

The College Football Playoff Selection Committee will not release its rankings for the real contenders for the sport’s four playoff spots until Halloween, safely past the mid-point of the season.

If the NCAA is “wise” enough to put off the hoopla surrounding who could be playing in the first semifinal at the Rose Bowl and the second in the New Orleans Superdome, then why can’t this august body put a kibosh on overactive athletic departments, exploiting underage students?

Many say: “Where are the parents?” Almost DailyBrett asks: “Where are the university presidents?”

It doesn’t matter whether a student seeking the NFL degree attends a heavily covered traditional power (e.g., USC Heisman campaign for Sam Darnold and Matt Barkley) or less heavily covered sometimes power (e.g., Oregon with the Joey Harrington Times Square billboard and Marcus Mariota), the respective athletic departments/sports information departments need to remember the football team represents the university … not the other away around.

Football is a team sport. Yes, everyone knows a quarterback is the most equal-of-the-equals and has the best chance of holding up the Heisman hardware, but the trophy is not presented on a Southern California beach in August.

The 12+-week season is a grind. This year’s team may not be the same as last year’s team. Conferences abound with college towns and trap games. College football is much more unpredictable than the brand played by the National Field-Goal League (NFL).

Sam Darnold is talented, but clearly does not have the hogs in the offensive line or the skill players beside him. The Trojans are good, maybe the best in the Pac-12, in a down year for the conference. The league will not send a team to the playoff unless there is dog-eat-dog chaos in the other conferences.

Hopefully, Darnold’s parents will be wise enough to steer him to return to USC for another year. He needs the time to work on his game, hit the books and earn a degree in communications. There may even be a Heisman Trophy and the NFL dollars in his happier future.

Wonder if the USC Athletic Department/Sports Information Office can dial back the P.T. Barnum/Donald Trump hype and let a good college kid be a good college kid?





“Donald Trump is like a vampire; he never sleeps.” – Bill O’Reilly

To be accurate he does sleep a tad, and nocturnally he tweets a ton to 40.6 million-plus recipients.

During a late-1980s visit of Almost DailyBrett to Sardine City (a.k.a. The White House Press Briefing Room), there were wire-service reporters, who drew the short straws, and were assigned to Presidential “Death Watch.”

Translated these graveyard-shift members of the Fourth Estate were expected to be poised and ready to report, if the president passed away in his sleep. Fortunately, the media was never required to write/broadcast about a president expiring in the White House living quarters.

It was quite simply one of the most boring jobs on the planet … until 10 months ago.

The “Death Watch” reporter now has to be glued to her/his mobile device/laptop for the next 140-character-or-less epistle(s) from the Tweeter-in Chief @realDonaldTrump. In the last two years, his Twitter handle has generated 36,100 tweets, ranking the president at #22 worldwide, ironically one place in front of … The New York Times.

As it turns out the political class now needs to be aware of what Trump is tweeting at 3:20 am EDT, and there appears to be little if any advance warning for even his allies (e.g., Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders) or objective/non-objective adversaries.

Trump has introduced widespread insomnia to the denizens of the Potomac, and also media/pundit types east of the Hudson. At the same time he has usurped the elite media’s role in setting the agenda for America’s national conversation.

It’s time to state the obvious:

Instead of the elite-media (i.e. NYT, WaPo, Big Three nets) framing national issue discussions under Agenda Setting Theory, Trump has stolen this mantle through his frantic and many times undisciplined tweeting.

For better or worse, Trump is setting or preempting the agenda and the elite media doesn’t like it one little bit.

The First Social Media President?

“Think of Franklin Roosevelt’s fireside chats or Ronald Reagan’s television addresses. More recently, presidents have used the internet to directly reach the public, making journalists increasingly irrelevant … “– Northeastern Associate Communication Studies Professor Greg Goodale

“Increasingly irrelevant”? Those are fightin’ words.

Considering that Twitter was founded only 11 years ago, it stands to reason that President Barack Obama was the first chief executive to dabble with tweeting. Having said that, did Obama’s tweets ever rise to the level of newsworthy stories, much less threatening elite-media Agenda Setting?

There is a new sheriff in town and part of the reason he is occupying the White House is directly linked to his provocative and disruptive tweets. Not only does Trump set the agenda, he can also shift, preempt and deflect the 24/7 news cycles with subjects of his choosing.

Some contended the elite-media’s cherished role in Agenda Setting would be eroded by widespread public participation in social media (e.g., 10.3 million tweeted during the first Obama vs. Romney debate in 2012).

Instead, research has demonstrated that reporters/correspondents/pundits use Twitter to silently collude with each during a 21st Century presidential debate. Instead of weakening Agenda Setting Theory, the media role in setting the agenda was actually enhanced through second-screen group think.

Whether the elite media should be charged with deciding what issues should be the subject of national conversation is debatable. What is not the subject of dispute is the fact that Twitter has become Trump’s most reliable bully pulpit.

Is Trump provocative in his tweets? Absolutely.

Has he interrupted the elite media setting of the national discussion? With relish.

Has Trump stepped on his own legislative/political agenda with his tweets? No question.

Has Trump in far too many cases to count been undisciplined in his use of Twitter, attacking both friends and foes? The case is closed.

Does the elite media absolutely grind their collective teeth and literally hate Trump’s Twitter use most of all? Is the Pope Catholic?

Will the 46th President of the United States use social media? Did FDR hold radio “Fireside Chats”? Did Kennedy and Reagan excel on television?

Social media tools are here to stay. As Harvard Business Professor Clayton Christensen coined, they are game-changing “destructive technologies.”

And similar to nuclear devices, Twitter is at the fingertips of one Donald John Trump.

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