Tag Archive: John Kerry


“Being Native American has been part of my story, I guess, since the day I was born” – Senator Elizabeth Warren

What is the definition of a story with “legs” (No pun intended)?

From a public relations standpoint, it’s a negative story that can’t or will not be stopped.

BP couldn’t contain the gushing oil into the gulf.

British Petroleum or BP is eternally synonymous with “The Spill.”

Hillary was unable to stymie the drip-drip of the 2015/2016 home server/emails scandal?

Madam Secretary is now a distinguished private citizen with yet another book to sell (Look for it on your Walmart discount rack in about six-months).

And then there is the Senator Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Massachusetts) self-inflicted wound about whether she has Cherokee blood somewhere, somehow, anywhere on the maternal side of her family.

President Trump lovingly labels her, “Pocahontas,” clearly getting under the skin of the honorable senator from Massachusetts, once taunting her to take a DNA test to clarify her ancestry.

And yes, she took the Stanford University test and the results indicated she was at best 1/64th Native American and no worse than 1/1024th Native American. There may be (or not) a smidgen of Cherokee Nation in her blood line, which originated somewhere between 150 and 250 years ago.

The Cherokee Nation was not impressed.

From assessing the reaction from the Washington D.C. Punditocracy (95.2 million Google results in 0.33 second), Almost DailyBrett must ask: Why Senator Warren is egging on a story that should simply die a quiet death?

Is there some crisis communication wisdom that lies beneath the surface?

Crisis Communications Time and Place Rule

Trump challenged Warren to prove she was a “person of color” by taking a DNA test.

The senator responded by submitting to the much criticized blood exam. The real question is whether the almost certain Democratic candidate for president made a terminal move against her interest in becoming POTUS #46?

Maybe? Maybe not?

What are the four tenets for Crisis Communication: Tell the Truth. Tell It Quickly. Tell It All. Move On.

We can argue whether Warren is telling the truth, let alone telling it all.

We can agree that she is telling it (relatively) quickly and trying to move on (if she can).

Consider the calendar. A few days after the most likely inconclusive No Blue Wave (e.g., Dems may take the house, Republicans remain in control of the Senate) November 6 midterms, the pundits will quickly shift focus to the 2020 presidential cycle.

When a candidate has bad news to bury, when is the best time to exorcise this demon?  Your author counsels at a time and place of your choosing.

As Almost DailyBrett wrote three years ago, the failure of candidate George W. Bush to address his 1976 DUI arrest at a time and place of his choosing well before the 2000 presidential election cycle almost cost him the presidency.

The DUI was shockingly revealed just five days before election day. It was “breaking” news.

Senator Warren well knows that her Massachusetts colleague, John Kerry, was “Swift Boated” by Bush in the latter weeks of the tight 2004 presidential campaign. Kerry never recovered.

Perhaps Warren is dealing with the Cherokee Nation issue now, making “old news” of an anticipated attack line in the upcoming Democratic Party presidential primary season. You can envision her crossing her eyes when this ancient issue is brought up.

Undoubtedly Trump will charmingly continue to label her, “Pocahontas.” She in turn will have a few choice rejoinders for him.

For Warren she is hoping the “Native American” issue becomes “old news” in 2020, dispensed with glaring headlines/cartoons/jokes about a controversial DNA test … way back in 2018.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2018/10/18/just-about-everything-youve-read-warren-dna-test-is-wrong/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.c1ca6028cbc4

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/17/us/politics/elizabeth-warren-dna-test.html

https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/tammy-bruce-elizabeth-warren-and-her-little-dna-story

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2PAVv5so2s

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/01/16/how-one-dui-in-1976-led-to-hanging-chads-in-2000/

 

 

 

 

“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.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/wp/2017/12/12/this-has-to-be-unacceptable-dan-rather-on-media-attacks-and-politics-in-america-under-trump/?utm_term=.6cdffc95176a&wpisrc=nl_opinions&wpmm=1

http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=82268&page=3

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/05/21/has-the-media-reached-the-point-that-it-can-never-cover-trump-fairly/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/07/22/from-affirming-back-to-informing/

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Walter-Cronkite

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Mapes

“We had an enormous, world-historic campaign catastrophe.” Matt Bennett, former Michael Dukakis presidential campaign volunteer

I didn’t give it another thought.” – Former Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis.

You don’t put stuff on your head if you’re president. That’s Politics 101.” – President Barack Obama

Does anybody remember Michael Dukakis wearing a combat helmet, riding around in an M1A1-Abrahms Main Battle tank in September 1988, to prove he was tough enough for the presidency?

**FOR USE WITH AP LIFESTYLES** **FILE*** This Sept. 13, 1988 file photo shows Democratic Presidential candidate Michael Dukakis as he gets a free ride in one of General Dynamics' new M1-A-1 battle tanks at its land systems division in Sterling Heights, Mich. (AP Photo/Michael E. Samojeden, FILE)

**FOR USE WITH AP LIFESTYLES** **FILE*** This Sept. 13, 1988 file photo shows Democratic Presidential candidate Michael Dukakis as he gets a free ride in one of General Dynamics’ new M1-A-1 battle tanks at its land systems division in Sterling Heights, Mich. (AP Photo/Michael E. Samojeden, FILE)

He just didn’t look right in the way-too-big battle helmet for a candidate who was a little guy … literally.

Dukakis looked even worse riding around in a battle tank circle-after-circle in front of 90 laughing reporters. The tank photo op was a bad idea in which someone … anyone with authority … on the Dukakis campaign needed not only to say, “no,” but “hell no.”

It was only a matter of nanoseconds before the tank footage found its way into the tender mercies of Bush media Meister Roger Ailes and campaign director Lee Atwater. They leapt like coiled vipers and quickly came up with a devastating advertisement, questioning Dukakis’ record on national defense and using the “goofy” tank footage to drive home the point.

What is really sad is that Dukakis advance dude Bennett had put on the very same helmet, looked into the mirror and concluded he looked silly in it. He was convinced it would come across even worse on the diminutive governor.

He called the Boston headquarters to warn them to cancel the event. No one listened. The rest is political history.

When Almost DailyBrett reflects back on this avoidable public relations disaster, one needs to contemplate that Twitter was still a bird, Facebook was a scrap-book, and the name “LinkedIn” would draw blank expressions. And what was a YouTube in 1988?

Today, Web 2.0 (e.g., blogging and social media) would take the tank catastrophe and spread to all corners of the globe within five minutes.

“Which Ever Way the Wind Blows”

Facebook was just being hatched in a Harvard dorm room in 2004. Twitter was two years away from being born. And yet there were millions chatting away on the Internet.kerrywindsurf

Some were discussing John Kerry going one way on his wind-surfing board, and then going the other way, before turning around and then heading in the other direction once again. The footage was set to the Blue Danube Waltz, courtesy of President George W. Bush’s campaign.

The point, which John Kerry’s unfortunate photo-op aided and abetted, was that Kerry was a flip-flopper, particularly in this voting pattern on the Iraq War. The Nantucket windsurfing image, the resulting ad and other factors helped convince the electorate that Kerry was not ready for the White House.bushmission

This is not to suggest that Bush was totally adept at photo opportunities. The “Mission Accomplished” banner on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln to declare the end of the Iraq War in 2003 was quickly and repeatedly mocked as the Iraqi insurgency inflicted years of casualties on American troops in the region.

Hillary, the Subway and Five Swipes of the Metro Card

“A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words.” – English Idiom

All of this Almost DailyBrett reminiscing brings us to the question of Hillary and the New York Subway platform. That damn electronic MetroCard (sorry Bernie the NYC Subway doesn’t use “tokens” anymore) took five agonizing swipes to finally work for Madam Secretary Clinton.hillarycard

Alas, it was only a matter of time before Saturday Night Live (SNL) would turn the subway platform snafu into a skit, also reminding everyone that Hillary has lost seven-out-of-her-last-eight contests to Bernie.

Was the temperamental subway scanner a metaphor of the state of the Clinton campaign?

Wasn’t the advance team supposed to “grease” the card scanner to make damn sure it always worked for Hillary? Isn’t that the job of the advance dudes and dudettes?

Politicians using props and photo opportunities to provide images for campaigns goes back to kissing babies and whistle-stop speeches.

And yet the rules have changed, where the little gets magnified and the catastrophic becomes digitally viral in nanoseconds.

Hillary’s ultimate electoral fate most likely will not be decided because of the humorous Hillary-on-the-subway platform goof-up (Has the former senator from New York ever ridden the subway before?). The “reset button” with now recalcitrant Russia may be more egregious. Guess Hillary knows a thing or two about symbols that go wrong.hillaryreset

Having said that, American political history is riddled with stories of photo-ops gone wrong (e.g., Nixon walking the beach in San Clemente in dress slacks and wingtips). Now with mobile devices and social media the tender-loving-care needed to stage these events is greater than ever.

And if a campaign tanks, the pain will not be felt within hours, but in seconds instead.

http://www.history.com/topics/us-presidents/presidential-elections/videos/tank-ride

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2013/11/dukakis-and-the-tank-099119

http://archive.boston.com/news/nation/articles/2004/09/23/bush_ad_plays_on_kerry_windsurfing/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mission_Accomplished_speech

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZwQkBfBs958

http://time.com/4285452/hillary-clinton-new-york-subay-metrocard-turnstile/

http://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2016/04/10/snl-hillary-clinton-subway-newday.cnn/video/playlists/snl-politics/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/michele-bachmann-nyc-subway_us_5707d7bce4b04bf520ff4da0

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/hillary-clinton-new-york-saturday-night-live_us_570a58a9e4b01422324940ef

 

 

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