Tag Archive: John Edwards


It’s been 15 years – three presidential cycles – since the Democratic Party selected an old white privileged male as its standard bearer.

Seems like eons ago since patrician Senator John Kerry “reported for duty” at the 2004 quadrennial convention of the Democratic Party in Boston. His VP choice was another old white privileged guy, former Senator John Edwards.

Whatever happened to John Edwards?

As former Vice President Joe Biden, 76, joins Senator Bernie Sanders, 77, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke and South Bend Mayor Peter Buttigieg – the Killer B’s — as front runners to secure the party’s crown, will there be a sense of diversity regression if the culture of “toxic” white masculinity once again controls the party?

Will it be déjà vu all over again?

Consider that 44 of the first 45 presidents have been old white privileged males, some clean-shaven, some with mustaches, some with beards and one follicly impaired (e.g., Ike)

The April 19 edition of the New York Times brought this troubling spectre to the forefront when it openly questioned whether an old white privileged man could actually be the 2020 face of the Democratic Party.

Will the celebratory progressive trend toward minority and women candidates slam into a moral- high-ground brick wall, if the party ultimately succumbs and selects an old white privileged male nominee to run against the GOP’s old white privileged male president?

Considering that Barack Obama won the nomination in 2008 and 2012 (and the presidency as well) and Hillary Clinton captured the nod in 2016, would the party be stepping back in its fight for diversity if a white hombre – regardless of qualifications and electability – emerges from the primary/caucus gauntlet to mount the podium in July 2020 as the nominee in Milwaukee?

Almost DailyBrett wonders whether progressives would sit out the campaign, mount their own third-party candidate or simply hold their noses and stand behind the old white privileged male party nominee because the re-election of Donald Trump is simply unfathomable.

The large field of would-be presidents includes prominent women (i.e., Senators Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Kirsten Gillibrand), minority candidates (i.e., Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Julian Castro) and a worldly candidate who speaks seven languages (e.g., Mayor Pete Buttigieg).

“Circular Firing Squad”?

 “One of the things I do worry about sometimes among progressives in the United States is the kind of rigidity where we say, ‘Ah, I’m sorry, this is how it’s gonna be.’ And then we start sometimes creating what’s called a circular firing squad where you start shooting at your allies because one of them is straying from purity on the issues. And when that happens, typically the overall effort and movement weakens”  — former President Barack Obama

Does the openly progressive New York Times on its news and editorial pages (redundant?) fear the party is swaying away from its portfolio of women and minority candidates? Wonder if the shocking revelations of Biden smelling the hair and kissing the heads of multiple females of the species has anything to do with the unchangeable and undeniable fact … he is at his core, an old white privileged male?

Was he too rough with Anita Hill 28 years ago? Is it time — past time — for his nationally televised apology?

Guess it’s time for opposition research. Wonder what other “oppo” is in store for Messrs. Biden and Sanders in particular? The knives are out.

Would Biden as the reluctant party’s nominee have to avoid college campuses in the fall 2020 campaign because his toxic white masculinity would generate microagressions, necessitate trigger warnings, and the reinforce the need for safe spaces?

Would his nomination be seen as an institutional form of “racism” and “sexism?”

Let’s imagine that either Biden or Bernie secure the nomination. Would the victor be required to select a woman and/or minority (Kamala Harris represents a two-for) in order to partially placate Justice Democrats … if that is indeed possible?

There is one other issue … and Almost DailyBrett will tread lightly on this subject: What about old white privileged males? Your author is one of these poor saps.

Charges of sexism or racism do not apply to them. There is no old white privileged male equivalent of misogyny. Fire away with impunity any invective or slur that comes to mind.

Never in 21st Century history has so much vitriol been leveled against one group of people with so little individual consequences.

No one cares. No one feels sorry.

One thing is certain: This particular demographic time-and-time-again wipes the mud out of their collective eyes, and votes.

They are motivated. They are high-propensity. And they represented 34 percent of the electorate in 2016, casting 62 percent of their votes for Donald Trump and only 31 percent for Hillary Clinton … two-to-one … Game, Set and Match.

If Democrats are actually interested in beating another old white privileged male, Donald Trump, they may want to consider fighting fire with fire … or maybe not.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/20/us/politics/democrats-2020-white-male.html

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/new-york-times-says-white-maleness-may-be-a-2020-albatross

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/09/25/culture-of-toxic-masculinity/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2018/10/27/what-happened-to-the-exceptional-nation-that-twice-elected-barack-obama/

 

“After taking your PR classes for the past three years, I feel confident to go out into the world of PR communications professionals. I will miss your enthusiasm in the classroom every day, and writing your two-page executive memos! I can’t thank you enough.” – Graduating Central Washington University Public Relations Student

“I have learned more from your classes than all the other classes I’ve taken combined, and that’s not just including lessons having to do with school. You taught me to take pride in my work, and to put in the effort to do my best. I honestly do not know if I would be where I am today, or have the future that I see myself having if it weren’t for you.” – Another Graduating Central Washington University Public Relations Student

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Trust me when I say not all student reviews are so positive.

When they are, you treasure each and every one.

Most of all you don’t take them for granted because there is always another opinion.

What we call the “Rule of One.” There is always at least one student, who quite frankly hates your guts and even loathes the very ground you walk on. Sigh.

And then there is the student, who can quote back what you said.

In this world of texting, Snapchatting, mobile devices and old-fashioned laptops, breaking through and instilling even ein bisschen wisdom seems almost miraculous.

A professor can prepare. She or he can spend hours researching. And devote even more time to tinkering with PowerPoints and video. Finally, the time comes to deliver the lecture, coax questions and then ask two key rhetorical questions:

  1. Was anyone listening?
  2. Does anyone care what you have to say?

One of my students provided me with a thank you card with valuable “Kevin Quotes” including a smiley face.graduation2016

Here they are with an Almost DailyBrett commentary under each one. They are offered in the exact order chosen by the student writer:

  • “Buy on rumor; sell on news” Almost DailyBrett: This ubiquitous expression in the late 1990s directly led to the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) promulgating Reg. FD (Fair Disclosure). Corporate chieftains could no longer “whisper” meaningful tidbits to favored financial analysts (e.g., Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Fidelity, Morgan Stanley) allowing their clients to buy on the whispered rumor and then sell on the actual news.
  • “Your Brand Is In Play 24/7/365” Almost DailyBrett: Donald Trump in particular should pay close attention to this axiom. With instantaneous global communication through a few key strokes, digital communication can advance a personal or corporate with lightning speed, and destroy it just as quick.
  • “Digital Is Eternal” Almost DailyBrett: The complement to your brand being in play 24/7/365 is that all digital communications are permanent, enduring and can be resurrected by hiring managers, plaintiff attorneys and others who can hurt your reputation and/or career.justinesacco
  • “The Long and Short Program” Almost DailyBrett: The Olympics figure skating competition metaphor pertains to 10-K annual report letters and 10-Q quarterly earnings reports respectively. The former has more flexibility, while the latter must give precedence to GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) and include revenues, gross margin percentage, net income, EPS, cash-on-hand and dividends (if applicable).
  • “Don’t Be a Google Glasshole” Almost DailyBrett: Guess, I really did say that …
  • “Buy Low; Sell High” Almost DailyBrett. Every one of our corporate communications/investor relations classes began with this chant. One must understand profit margins.
  • “Do Not Buy Stock in Enron” Almost DailyBrett: Don’t buy a stock just because it is going up. You need to understand a company’s raison d’ etat before you commit funds. There is a real difference between investing and gambling. Those who gambled on Enron lost everything.
  • “How Does a Company Make Money?” Almost DailyBrett: Bethany McLean of Fortune asked this basic question to Jeffrey Skilling, now imprisoned former Enron president. The Harvard-trained chief executive needed an accountant to answer this most basic of questions. McLean smelled a rat.
  • “Stocks Are Forward-Looking Indicators” Almost DailyBrett: As Wall Street wild man Jim Cramer of CNBC Mad Money fame always states” “I don’t care about a stock’s past, only its future.”edwards1
  • “Tell the Truth, Tell It All, Tell It Fast. Move On” Almost DailyBrett: These 11 words are the crux of effective crisis communications. Disclosure is inevitable. You can manage or be managed. Former presidential candidate John Edwards is the poster child for failing to follow this advice.
  • “Corporate America Needs Better PR” Almost DailyBrett: Amen

Appreciate the nice words. Even more: Thanks for listening and learning.

https://www.snapchat.com/

https://www.sec.gov/answers/regfd.htm

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/04/08/the-internet-where-fools-go-to-feel-important/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/05/25/the-mother-of-all-weak-arguments/

 

 

“The ‘everyone does it’ defense eradicates the higher level of conduct we should expect from those in powerful positions. We really should hold news anchors and presidents to a higher standard; they are invested with an extraordinary amount of trust and power.” – Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post

“Everyone does it … “

There is probably not a parent anywhere on the fruited plain, who has not heard some variation of these overused words.

Thought I had dispensed with that phrase, until I heard: “All my other professors are (i.e., changing my grade, giving me more time on a required paper, providing for extra credit, excusing unexcused absences …), why won’t you?”

During the 1970s-era regime of Tricky Dick and the ensuing Watergate break-in and cover-up, Richard Nixon diehards, and there were literally millions of them, would gamely try to deflect attention from the rampant paranoia of their champion by lamely bringing up the tiresome, “All politicians do the same thing …”nixon1

Nixon resigned in disgrace in 1974, and yet there are some, who are getting long in the tooth, to this very day who will contend that all politicians are crooked and therefore Tricky Dick was unfairly persecuted by the history of his own making.

We went through a similar exercise in the 1990s with Bill Clinton and his scandal du-jour administration (i.e., Whitewater, cattle futures, Paula Corbin Jones, Starr Report, Marc Rich pardon…) only to be told repeatedly in a transparent effort to change the subject that “All politicians do it.”

By the time the turn of the new century was upon us we as a nation were in a state of exhaustion when it came to the seemingly endless sordid accounts emanating from the Lincoln Bedroom to the Oval Office.

And now we are on the precipice of being treated to Darwin-forbid 11-more years (2015-2025) of integrity vs. money decisions with money always prevailing. And in response, we will be told by the Kool-Aid drinkers that all politicians and by extension supposedly “objective” journalists that they all engage in similar behavior.

The plethora of stories of deleted emails, high-six-figure speaking fees, lying to the New York Times, failure to report contributions, negotiating Russia’s takeover of some of our uranium deposits are all being dismissed as conduct becoming any politician.

What an incredibly weak argument.

Begging to Differ

Some members of the Sacramento Capitol Press Corps used to joke that my boss, Governor George Deukmejian’s favorite color was gray. They were not exactly right, but they were correct that Governor Deukmejian was as straight-arrow as they come, retiring each evening to more work, Gloria, the kids, the beagles and his beloved Jamoca Almond Fudge.

As a press secretary, I never had to worry that my governor would be a late-night John Edwards visiting his mistress, Rielle, and love child, Frances, at the Beverly Hilton, while his wife Elizabeth was back home dying of cancer.edwards1

Think of it this way: Even though the partisan wars have continued unabated during the past 14 years, the last two presidents have not been ensnared in personal transgressions.

Yes there are hundreds upon thousands who vehemently oppose the Iraq War, but George W. Bush could be counted to love and support his wife, Laura, be a good father to his twin daughters, and a role model of a solid citizen and one committed to exercise and good personal habits.

The same is true about Barack Obama. Once again there are hundreds upon thousands, who oppose mandatory redistribution of hard-earned income and Obamacare, but at the same time you know he loves Michelle and his two daughters. He and Michelle have been superb role models for healthy eating and exercise.

George Deukmejian, George W. Bush and Barack Obama are all examples that fly in the face of the “All politicians do it” chorus.

Yes, there are those who cheat on their spouses, conceive love children, tweet their private parts, pound on bathroom stalls, fail to report income, destroy physical or digital evidence, receive oval sex in the oral office, obstruct justice, and the list is seemingly endless.monicabill

Alas, this behavior extends to supposedly objective media elites who fail to disclose donations to less-than-charitable causes, fabricate war stories, attach igniters to trucks, deliberately ignore fabricated documents, practice checkbook journalism by hiring a presidential daughter for $600,000, keynote party fundraisers, and trigger conflict of interest questions.

Is there going to be an “all news anchors do it” chorus in weak defense of those who have an obligation to fair-and-balanced reporting?

Parents have long rejected these arguments from their children. Mumsy used to tell the author of Almost DailyBrett, “If everyone is jumping off the cliff, does that mean you have to jump off the cliff too?”

Jennifer Rubin raises a salient question: Shouldn’t we be holding those in power and trust to a higher standard than everyone else? National politicians and elite journalists have risen to the apex of the most powerful nation on earth. They have asked for our trust. We may or may not give them the reins of power. Shouldn’t they perform with integrity without even the perception of wrongdoing?

Reports indicate that Millennials are turning away from government and politics in droves. Can we blame them when they see nothing but gridlock, name calling, deflections and obfuscation? How can we promote public service to Millennials in the face of widespread scandal by those who would serve us and those who inform us? This problem is magnified when we justify their disgraceful antics with overused one-liners.

Instead of dismissing unacceptable behavior, shouldn’t we be demanding a restoration of universal decency, integrity and honesty?

It all starts with rejecting the Mother of All Weak Arguments: “Everyone does it … “

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2015/05/20/moral-equivalence-endangers-journalism-and-governance/?wpisrc=nl_opinions&wpmm=1

http://www.people-press.org/2015/05/19/hillary-clinton-approval-timeline/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Edwards_extramarital_affair

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/05/02/lying-to-the-new-york-times/

 

 

… and again, again, and again …

Why is it that some of the best and the brightest just don’t get it when it comes to personal public relations?

There will always be bad days.

And with these bad days are the prospects of worse days in the future.

Was Yogi Berra referring to Brian Williams, John Kitzhaber, Anthony Weiner, John Edwards, George W. Bush, Tiger Woods …?

Almost DailyBrett seriously doubts that Yogi recognizes the name, John Kitzhaber, let alone his now-infamous girlfriend, and the state in which he until recently served as its governor.kitzhaberhayes

Having extended our due respect to Yogi, let’s contemplate another famous Berra-ism: “You can observe a lot by just watching.”

Tell the Truth, Tell it All, Tell it Fast, Move On …

The four principles of crisis communications live on, beginning with what mumsys all across the fruited plain have told daughters and sons: “Always tell the truth.”

These four principles or steps in quick order – Tell the Truth, Tell it All, Tell it Fast, Move On — also translate into another adage: Manage or be managed.

  • Brian Williams with his propensity for self-aggrandizement and exaggeration (e.g., starving at the well-stocked Ritz Carlton in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina) could not or would not recognize the danger signals of his own behavior. Williams became the story (a no-no for any reporter), lost control of this tale and eventually his NBC anchor desk, his position and quite possibly his career as we know it.williamsnbc
  • John Kitzhaber was starting his fourth term as the governor of Almost DailyBrett’s adopted, Oregon. His arrogance mounted over time, including his heavy-handed sacking of the president of the University of Oregon, Richard Lariviere. The ultimate downfall for Kitzhaber pertained to Oregon’s “First Lady” (the governor’s squeeze), her high-salary non-profit job, influence peddling and the governor’s refusal to acknowledge an obvious conflict of interest until it was too late. Yep he had the opportunity to manage, but in the end he was managed and with it he became a poster child for term limits.
  • Anthony Weiner attempted to bluff his way out of the mounting evidence of his “selfies” being sent to designated females from Seattle to New York.
  • John Edwards cheated on his dying wife with his videographer, and stonewalled the media about his love child, Frances, until he was caught by none other than the National Enquirer.
  • George W. Bush had the opportunity to reveal his 1976 DUI arrest in Kennebunkport, Maine (manage), but chose to keep it under wraps until the story exploded four days before the 2000 election (managed).
  • Tiger Woods repeatedly pleaded for familial privacy as TMZ kept listing the names and details of even more women that had affairs with the world’s number one golfer. Woods was managed by the media and his career has never been the same.

Who’s Next?

“I tell our players all the time, ‘As soon as you start going down the wrong track and you start doing something wrong, the clock starts ticking until the day you are caught, because it’s going to happen’…In our world today, you think it’s not going to be found out eventually?” – Nebraska Football Coach Mike Riley

“Who’s Next” is the question posed by Pete Townshend in 1971, but in this case it applies to who or what organization is going to fail to recognize the crisis communication warning signs, eventually losing control of an issue, and then being subjected to a seemingly never-ending story with “legs.”

For BP and its Deepwater Horizon oil platform, the media coverage of the 2009 catastrophic spill that immediately killed 11 workers lasted for more than three months. The multi-billion litigation and the permanent damage to the BP brand continues to this day. “BP” and “Spill” are synonymous terms.oilspillbird

For far too many in the reputation business, crisis communications is simply, response. Certainly, there is a response component to crisis communications, but just as important are the words, prevention and management.

Samsung could have prevented or at least blunted the effect of the movie producer Michael Bay meltdown at the Consumer Electronics Show by practicing how to respond to a faulty teleprompter.

Johnson & Johnson’s Tylenol team managed the discovery of cyanide–laced capsules and provided a text-book example of management that not only saved the brand, but restored public confidence in pharmaceutical industry and generated an entirely new regime of safety packaging.

There is no doubt that we will soon be reading, commenting, tweeting, trolling, memeing about some preventable human or institutional failing as it applies to legal tender, sexual dalliances or personal aggrandizement that could have been prevented or at least managed.

Instead, the story takes off and spins out of control. Eventually the digital ones and zeroes go critical and the reactor core starts to melt down. The monster grows legs and runs for days, weeks, months …

What did mumsy say about telling the truth?

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/y/yogi_berra.html

http://www.oregonlive.com/education/index.ssf/2011/12/the_rise_and_fall_of_richard_l.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/10/15/loma-prieta/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deepwater_Horizon_oil_spill

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/01/13/damn-the-teleprompters/

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=meme

 

 

“Not disclosing the DUI on my terms may have been the single costliest political mistake I ever made … I may have just cost myself the presidency.” – President George W. Bush

“We should have brought it (DUI arrest) up at a time and place of our choosing. I should have made a more convincing case for doing so. Instead I helped George W. Bush keep a secret that almost cost him the White House.” – Karl Rove, Senior Advisor to President George W. Bush

How could a Maine drunk-driving arrest in America’s bicentennial year lead to the infamous hanging-chads election debacle in Florida 24 years later?DUI

As virtually all of us know, George W. Bush used to drink. And with the consumption of alcohol, sometimes more than one or two beers too many,  the probability of a drunk driving arrest increases. That’s exactly what happened to Bush in Kennebunkport, Maine on Labor Day weekend in 1976.

Serving as Governor of Texas two decades later, Bush was asked by reporters if he was ever arrested for DUI. He didn’t tell a fib, but he also did not tell the whole truth about his 0.10 blood-alcohol level DUI misdemeanor, paying a fine and having his license suspended for 30 days.

Instead, he confided that he did not have a perfect record; he engaged in foolish activities as a youth; and he urged fellow Texans to not drink and drive. Having the vantage point of history, we know now this response while technically correct was an opportunity lost.

Reflecting back on his evasive answer, Bush realized that he could have held an event with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) – and use this backdrop to disclose his own DUI – putting out the negative news at a time and place of his own choosing … and over time making the 1976 Kennebunkport arrest ancient history.

A specifically timed disclosure was exactly the advice of his aides, Rove and Karen Hughes, and conceivably others on the governor’s staff, but Bush stubbornly would not agree to get the DUI out in the public and on the record. Instead, this DUI magically came into the public consciousness exactly four days before the closest-ever 2000 election.

Rove contended that even if this DUI revelation moved 2 percent of the electorate to shift from Bush to Al Gore or from Bush to not voting that would have cost the then-Texas Governor 2.1 million votes. Translated: Instead of razor-thin wins in New Mexico, Wisconsin, Iowa and Oregon – all four of these states ended up in the Al Gore column – Florida’s electoral votes may not have been necessary and history would have been different.

Tell the Truth, Tell it All, Tell It Fast, Move On

I’ve oftentimes said that years ago I made some mistakes. I drank too much, and I did on that night … I regret that it happened, but it did. I learned my lesson.” – Governor George W. Bush to reporters four days before election-day in 2000bushdui

The mantra in effective crisis communications is first-and-foremost to tell the truth. Tell the complete story, tell it as fast as possible (not four days before a national election). Move on quickly, hopefully preventing the story from having “legs.”

Let’s face reality here. Almost DailyBrett has seen cases where personal pride and human nature cause good people to sweep unwanted remembrances underneath the rug, hoping they will never be heard from again. Darn it, these stories have a habit of slithering out just when you least expect them.

We watched in amused horror as former presidential candidate John Edwards denied repeatedly that he had an affair and a love child (e.g., Frances Quinn) with videographer Rielle Hunter while his wife Elizabeth, was fighting a losing battle against cancer.

After days of kicking and screaming, Edwards came clean about the affair with Hunter, but still denied the love child, but even this revelation was not the whole truth. Eventually, the National Enquirer got a story right, complete with photos of Edwards, Hunter and their lovely offspring.edwards1

Did someone say something about Tell the Truth, Tell it All, Tell it Fast and Move On?

Does anyone give a rat’s derriere about John Edwards anymore?

Manage or Be Managed

“The news of the arrest came out at the worst possible time, with only four days to go in the campaign. Many have suggested that I would have served my candidate better had I insisted he disclose it earlier; maybe so.” – Karen Hughes, Counselor to President George W. Bush

When it comes to the most important public relations and brand/reputation management of all, our own personal PR and our own brand and reputation, we all have a choice: manage or be managed.

The campaign apparatus of George W. Bush conducted opposition research on their own candidate, which is standard practice as one knows the other side of the aisle will be digging into the weeds looking for “good dirt.” The Bush campaign oppo research did not discover the DUI, even though it was buried in the public records in scenic Kennebunkport. The erroneous conclusion: The coast was clear.

Instead, the storm clouds with no coincidence came pouring in at the worst time possible for the Bush campaign and with it a sudden break of momentum and the potential loss of more than 2 million votes

We could have been spared the one-month legal spectacle of hanging chads in Florida.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/11/06/AR2010110602835.html

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/05/AR2010030502249.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karen_Hughes

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Edwards_extramarital_affair

 

 

 

 

weiner

“It’s only a blow j..”

How many times has the author of Almost DailyBrett heard Clintonistas defend the former president’s eight years in the Oral Office with this almost instinctive reaction?

Is it only an act of oral sex between consenting adults: One the leader of the free world and the other an intern from Lewis & Clark College? Or does it speak to the judgment of the nation’s highest ranking public servant at the time?

As the old axiom goes: “Good government is good politics.”

Does getting caught with your pants down run counter to either good government or good politics? And if so, does that unspeakable act(s) spell curtains for the offenders? Does the Schlange trump the brain? Does anyone care, anymore?

Maybe we should take a hike along the “Appalachian Trail.”

Nearly three decades ago the mere cheating on one’s spouse could spell doom to one’s political aspirations, particularly for the highest office in the land. A perfect example is the 1984 end of former Senator Gary Hart’s “New Ideas” campaign in the wake of his widely dispersed photograph, triumphantly displaying Donna Rice aboard the “Monkey Business.”

The careers of former Oregon Senator Bob Packwood and Washington Senator Brock Adams came to premature ends in the 1990s as a result of the senators intermingling with nice looking office staffers serving boxed wine and Mickey Finn’s respectively.

Former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom violated the so-called “Man rule” by having an affair with the wife of his deputy chief of staff/campaign manager. Newsom is now California’s lieutenant governor. His career is far from over.

In 1992, then Governor Bill Clinton accompanied by then Arkansas First Lady Hillary Clinton heroically defended the governor’s extra-curricular activities with Jennifer Flowers on a memorable edition of 60 Minutes.

As it turns out, Mizz Flowers was a prelude for Kathleen Willey and she was a predecessor for Paula Corbin Jones and then came an intern by the name of Monica Lewinsky.

And for the past 15 years in the wake of the Kenneth Starr Report and the political resurrection of William Jefferson Clinton the rationalization has been oft-repeated: “It’s only a blow j..”

The inference is the conducting of the office was not impacted, so what is the big deal?

This question comes full circle (no pun intended) with the comeback attempts of former Rep. Anthony Weiner, former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, the desperate actions of San Diego Mayor Bob Filner and the recent election of former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford.

What unifies these four political animals (and presumably others) is the desire to remain/return to the game despite questionable judgment when it comes to their zippers.

Sanford hiked the “Appalachian Trail” to cover up his affair in Argentina. He was recently elected to a South Carolina House seat, a come down from being the state’s chief executive. He is still in the game for now.

Weiner is attempting to become Gotham’s Mayor despite sexting his junk (Weiner’s Wiener) via Twitter to chosen damsels across the fruited plain.

Spitzer wants to be New York City Comptroller after being “Customer No. 9” run by the madam at the exclusive Emperor’s Club.

And Filner is apologizing to anybody and everybody, even forcing his staff to take sexual harassment training, in an attempt to survive and let the whole thing blow over.

Does this mean the public is numb to sexual escapades and that we really don’t care what goes on in the executive bedroom or even the White House? According to recent polls in New York, the public cares less about sexual adventures than it does a politician putting his or her hand in the public coffer. Both Weiner and Spitzer are benefitting from his lack of overall concern about flexible morals and they are all capitalizing on their respective name IDs.

Indeed, the level of public tolerance has changed, even though we should note and even celebrate that Presidents Reagan, Bush I, Bush II and Obama all conceivably went home to their respective spouses every evening.

My boss, former California Governor George Deukmejian, went home each night to Gloria, the kids, the beagles and his beloved jamoca-almond fudge. As his press secretary, I slept better at night knowing this fact, even though his cholesterol count was most likely higher than it should have been.

john_edwards2_240

Having acknowledged the obvious change in public attitudes, there are limits to popular acceptance. Take would be President/Vice President and former Senator John Edwards. He cheated on his dying wife, Elizabeth, with his videographer. He lied about it. He had a love child with the same videographer, Rielle Hunter. He lied about the child. His wife died after fighting against breast cancer while her husband cheated and lied.

071218-rielle-hunter1

The mantra of crisis communications is: Tell the Truth, Tell it Fast, Tell it All, Move On.

Edwards got only one right. He tried to simply Move On.

Messrs.’ Sanford, Weiner, Spitzer, Newsom and Filner are trying to Move On as well.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2013/07/13/2013-elections-marked-by-candidates-seeking-redemption-will-voters-forgive/?test=latestnews

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-fix/wp/2013/07/16/how-anthony-weiner-and-eliot-spitzer-are-winning/?wpisrc=nl_politics

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/05/21/men-and-their-schlanges/

http://www.sfgate.com/politics/article/AIDE-QUITS-AS-NEWSOM-S-AFFAIR-WITH-HIS-WIFE-IS-2652745.php#photo-2105071

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eliot_Spitzer_prostitution_scandal

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-filner-claims-20130715,0,6397291.story

“Flip-flops are for fa..ots. Flip-flops are for fa..ots.” – Rutgers assistant Eric Murdock quoting fired Rutgers’ Coach Mike Rice screaming at 10-11 year-old basketball campers.

“I have not been honest with myself, my family, my constituents, my friends and supporters, and the media … to be clear, the picture was of me, and I sent it” – former New York Representative Anthony Weiner finally acknowledging – after repeated public denials — that he tweeted his genitalia to target females across the fruited plain.

It was wrong for me ever to deny she was my daughter (Frances Quinn Hunter), and, hopefully, one day, when she understands, she will forgive me,” – John Edwards admitting that he fathered a love child with staffer Rielle Hunter.

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Coach Rice’s career is over at 44. Put a fork in him; he’s done.

Congressman Weiner’s dreams of becoming New York City’s mayor were thrown into the junk heap at 46.

Future president Edwards’ Potomac Fever dreams of being the leader of the free world permanently ended at 56.

The most recent viral public relations train wreck is bully boy coach Rice. He has been duly convicted in the courtroom of public opinion under the glare of the nation’s largest media market and buried under a video avalanche for assaulting his players, throwing balls at their heads and uttering ugly slurs about their sexuality.

For Rice, who was coaching at a major university entering into the prestigious Big-10 Conference, he is now the butt of a Saturday Night Live skit and the unflattering subject of an ESPN Outside the Lines report. These are the least of his problems.

Contemplating the damaging videos of an out-of-control Rice, one must ponder whether he ever asked himself if he was going too far. Now he is facing the certainty that his career is over at 44-years young. Conceivably, he has another three or four decades to live…and yet he is done.

Who will ever hire Mike Rice? The video will always follow him. It is permanent. It is eternal. He is toast.

The thoughts that must be going through his head right now are hard to imagine. All he had to do is deport himself. His behavior made Bobby Knight seem like a choir boy…even after the legendary coach threw the chair and was terminated by Indiana University. Maybe, other coaches and mentors will learn from Rice’s boorish mistakes.

A question that comes to mind pertains to the always-present, always-on digital media. Some complain that it threatens our privacy, but at the same time it can be seen as a great equalizer. The bully was exposed though grainy video and sensitive long-distance microphones. Maybe technology may be an answer to bullying, oppression and those who through whatever means try to dominate the weak.

The ultimate answer to this kind of misconduct lies with the individual. All of these public relations debacles could have easily been avoided with the exercise of personal deportment, compassion and accountability. Video cameras, directional microphones, self-publishing outlets and marauding media are everywhere. The ever-present, instantaneous and global media are in the “on” position at all times.

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Deal with it or perish.

What are some solutions in terms of protecting individual reputations and personal brands?

Act and behave with integrity even when you think that no one is looking as someone with a digital device very well may be doing just that. There is a time and place for “tough love,” but understand there is a definitive line between constructive criticism and destructive activity.

Assume the camera is on, the microphone is poised, the drones are flying; life will never be the same again.

Some have the chance to recover from public relations disasters (e.g. Michael Phelps had his London; Tiger has his Augusta; AH-Nold has yet another tough guy movie) even though their reputations will never be the same.

Still others have no outlet for a comeback; Rice, Weiner, Edwards and Lance Armstrong are part of this exclusive club. They will literally have decades to contemplate what went wrong and know they will never have a total and complete opportunity to vindicate themselves.

http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=9130237

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthony_Weiner_sexting_scandal

http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/edwards-scandal-timeline-john-edwards-rielle-hunter-affair/story?id=9621755#.UWB3vMriVJQ

http://msn.foxsports.com/collegebasketball/story/mike-rice-rutgers-player-abuse-scandal-spoofed-saturday-night-live-melissa-mccarthy-040613

Why are men their own worst PR enemies?

Why is it only a matter of time before the blood gushes out of our collective brains flowing due south and getting far-too-many of us into some really deep doo-doo?

Are we really just slaves to our Schlanges (pronounced shlongers as in the one-eyed shlonger)?

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Do any of us really understand the word, “Accountability?”

As we live in a society of quicker-and-quicker news cycles, what was the story that blew Donald Trump and his annoying hair-do, personality and penchant for the “F-word” off the pages (as if there are still pages)? The shooting of Osama bin Laden and the feeding of his remains to Indian Ocean sharks.

And as welcome as the Navy-Seal-Osama-bin-Laden story was to the world that news cycle passed so much faster than what most of us in the strategic communications choreography would have originally thought; it was short, very short.

What ended the universal attention of the Osama bin Laden commando raid was two Schlange-induced stories in rapid succession, the au-naturel rape attempt of New York Sofitel chamber-maid by former IMF-chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn; and the love child revelation by former California Governator AH-nold Schwarzenegger, and the related divorce proceedings by Maria Shriver.

Were we really that surprised? To some extent, yes; and to some extent, no.

What was surprising was that Mssr Dominique, one of the most powerful men on the planet, staying in a $3,000 per night suite, couldn’t have just followed the lead of so many of his countrymen and rented a discreet happy ending?  If so, he would have simply tucked his Schlange back into his pants, settled into his first class seat on Air France, continued to try to bail out Greece while setting his sights on Nicolas Sarkozy.

In AH-Nold’s case you ask why someone so fortunate to be married to filet mignon, would take such a huge gamble with skirt steak in the form of domestic help that lives in a monopoly house on a God-awful Bakersfield cul-de-sac?

The females of the species, who has been shaking their collective heads for years and years, are just thinking this is more of the same. This time it is Dominique and AH-Nold. Before it was Eliot. It was Hugh Grant. It was Tiger. It was Bill and Monica. It was Al and the masseuse. It was John Edwards and Rielle. It was Larry Craig and the bathroom stall. It was Brett Favre and his sexted Schlange. It was… (Add your favorite notorious Schlange story here).

Which brings up the next question: Do we really subscribe to the so-called biological imperative that men must spread our seed far-and-wide, across hill-and-dale, from sea-to-shining sea, across the fruited plain to fertilize as many eggs as we possibly can? To borrow an oft-repeated contention in another context, are we simply born this way?

If we subscribe to this notion then we have to come to the next logical conclusion, and that is that men are victims of our biology. We really cannot control what we do. Could this contention that my Schlange made me do it be the 21st Century version of the “Twinkie” defense? Are men simply helpless in subservience to our Schlanges?

What about that organ in between our ears as opposed to the one in between our legs? What about accountability? What about integrity? What about discipline? Didn’t Vince Lombardi say that there is something in good men that yearns for discipline?

And you wonder why the PR profession is being taken over by women? Are they perfect? Ask virtually any woman if she is perfect, and a litany of real or perceived faults will in most cases come flowing out…and that is refreshing.

Alas, for men our misadventures on behalf of our beloved Schlanges will inevitably keep marching on. One related PR debacle will follow another. Eighty-five year-old Hugh Hefner will marry (his third) 25-year-old former Playmate Crystal Harris on June 18. Hugh spared men from having to wonder what Crystal will look like on her wedding night. Now we can simply join with women in wondering what the dress will look like.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/may/19/dominique-strauss-kahn-resigns-imf

http://www.thedailybeast.com/blogs-and-stories/2011-05-17/arnold-schwarzeneggers-love-child-bombshell-why-maria-shriver-left/#

http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20454258,00.html

 

Miracle Workers?

One thing is certain; there are plenty of big egos in the PR business.

After all PR executives will be counseling heads of state and captains of industry this week, huddled against the backdrop of snow-covered peaks at the Global Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. There is little of significance that can’t be done without solid good public relations counsel. If you don’t believe it; just ask us.

Okay, PR executives can’t walk on water. And they can’t part the Red Sea. Ditto for turning water into wine or allowing the blind to see again. But can they publicly rehabilitate Tiger Woods? Can they put John Edwards back on the right course? . . . Can we discuss walking on water again?

Sometimes PR pros have to admit that the dog just won’t hunt. Tiger Woods, who is spending quality time at a sex-rehab clinic in Mississippi, now stands at 19 known mistresses and counting.

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“He is beyond PR redemption,” said public relations maven Howard Rubenstein. “He is in public relations hell right now. There is not a PR man on Earth who can restore his image.” http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/tiger-woods-save-image-reputation-public-relations-experts/story?id=9284989

How refreshing to hear this admission.

“Now my gut is that he’s got a life problem,” Howard Bragman, CEO of Fifteen Minutes Public Relations. “There are some major issues he has to confront.”

Ultimately, Woods can make a partial comeback based upon the fact that he is still the best golf pro on the planet. His first news conferences at a PGA event will be extremely difficult and will have to be carefully scripted, and he can get through them. However, the genie cannot be put back into the bottle. In fact, the bottle is nowhere to be found.

“He’s hemorrhaging; even a transfusion won’t help,” said Rubenstein. “He can never re-establish that perfect image of a happily married family man. Never. The best he can hope for is to re-establish his image as a golfing champion. If he wins consistently and doesn’t sink to 4 or 5, he’ll be applauded again – but just for golf. There will still be plenty of snickering behind his back.”

For John Edwards there is no Augusta. No Spyglass Hill. No Pebble Beach. No Torrey Pines, but there is Haiti. He was last seen in the Earthquake devastated Caribbean country trying to help the poor in rebuilding their lives. But can Edwards reverse his image? The answer is simply, no.

This is the ongoing saga with the ultimate “legs.” It never stops giving. After finally admitting that he is the father of Rielle Hunter’s little girl, Frances Quinn, he is faced with a tell-all book by the man enlisted to lie on his behalf, Andrew Young, and stories are surfacing about a potential Edwards-Hunter sex tape.

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Kate Catlin of MMI Public Relations of Raleigh, NC, wrote an excellent piece about how Edwards violated all the rules of handling bad news. http://www.mmipublicrelations.com/blog/entry/in-the-case-of-two-year-old-frances-quinn-hunter-john-edwards-you-are-the-f/

They are essentially: 1.) Tell the truth (Edwards did not tell the truth and kept lying); 2.) Tell it All (Are we confident that we know the whole story, even now?); 3.) Tell it fast? (Two years will never fit anybody’s description of “fast”); 4.) Moving on (Haiti may not qualify).

“As the latest developments in the disaster that is John Edwards unfold, he continues to suffer from his poor crisis management over the last two years,” Catlin wrote.   “Because he refused to tell the truth, tell it all and tell it fast, the details keep trickling out, damaging his reputation all over again each time.”

Yep, yep and yep.

Tiger Woods and John Edwards are just two of the latest examples of cases where even the best PR talents are limited. There is no public rehabilitation of Mike Tyson, Tonya Harding. OJ Simpson or fill in the blank with your own example of a terminal public relations train wreck.

If those who command the public eye are prone to their own personal destruction, then that is the course they have chosen. They will ultimately be held accountable for their transgressions. As PR professionals we need to pick our battles and help those who want our assistance and deserve to be helped. They are not necessarily one and the same.

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