Tag Archive: Watergate


“The Trump-less debate proved the Donald right … While more than 24 million people watched the first GOP presidential debate on Fox, just 12.5 million watched this one.” – Chris Cillizza, Washington Post

From a public relations and long-term reputation standpoint, which is better?

  1. Caving into Mr. CombOver and jettisoning Megyn Kelly as a GOP debate moderator for the benefit of ratings?
  2. Retaining Kelly as a moderator, even at the expense of a Donald Trump debate boycott and the obvious sacrifice of literally millions of viewers?megyndonald

Whichever course Fox News’ boss Mr. Warm-and-Fuzzy Roger Ailes chose, there was going to be criticism and impassioned finger pointing. It was a simply a no-win situation for Fox News, regardless of the decided course of action.

Fox News chose Option 2: Standing behind Kelly, journalistic principle and calling Trump’s debate-boycott bluff.

Almost DailyBrett must also take a stand on this question: Allowing any politician, no matter how demagogic, influential and wealthy, to dictate coverage by any network sets a horrible precedent and worse yet: The decision is indefensible.

Besides … love it or loath it … cable news ratings leader Fox News will be around longer than Donald Trump. The network claims it is “fair and balanced.” Whether one agrees with this moniker or not, how can Fox News stand behind this motto if a billionaire bully dictates journalistic standards?

Tit in a Ringer?

“Katie Graham’s gonna get her tit caught in a big fat wringer if that’s (slush fund story) published.” – Nixon Attorney General John Mitchell

Do you think Richard Nixon wanted Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of the Washington Post to be fired during the height of the Watergate scandal? Nixon’s Attorney General John Mitchell even warned he would put Post publisher Graham’s “tit in a ringer.”postgraham

The Post was properly saluted by the journalism profession for sticking to its proverbial guns in the 1970s. Woodward and Bernstein’s “All the President’s Men” (both the book and the movie) and “The Final Days,” celebrated the Pulitzer-Prize-winning coverage by the Post.

So why not even some modicum of acknowledgement of the courage of Fox News, even at a network loss of upwards of 12 million viewers? Almost DailyBrett is not suggesting an equivalency between the Watergate coverage and Donald Trump debate boycott other than to state that both required courage.

What’s ironic is at least one or more Washington Post pundits (and presumably other media as well) are leading the criticism of Fox News’ decision to back Kelly and suffer the ratings hit as a result of Trump’s petty-and-childish debate boycott.

Who Is the Real Loser?

“Slinking away from an accomplished journalist who might ask a tough question is lame and makes the blustering, bullying real estate mogul look weak and petulant. This could permanently damage the perception that he’s strong and fearless.” – Presidential Campaign Manager Karl Rove

There are some who are taking Donald Trump at his word: He boycotted last Thursday’s debate because of Kelly’s tough questioning at the August 6 debate, asking him to respond to charges that he is a misogynist.

There are others who contend he played it safe, especially when word leaked out that Kelly and her two other moderators Bret Baier and Chris Wallace, were planning on interjecting Tim Russert-style “got-ya” videos into the debate questioning.  Last Thursday’s debate featured the toughest questions of the seven Republican and four Democratic debates to date.trumpailes

And then, there is the distinct possibility the threatened boycott had nothing to do with Kelly, but really boiled down to two-little boys in a sandbox (e.g., Trump and Ailes) contesting who had the biggest Tonka truck.

It will be interesting to note whether Trump’s pettiness will cost him in the Iowa Caucuses this evening. If so, a national wave of Schadenfreude may ensue.

For the Fox News PR department, it is far easier to stand-up for Vanity Fair cover-subject, Megyn Kelly and more importantly, journalistic principles, than to rationalize backing down to Donald Trump.

When in doubt: Think long-term reputation over short-term benefit.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/01/28/winners-and-losers-from-the-7th-republican-presidential-debate/?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_headlines

http://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-ducks-an-iowa-opportunity-1453938984?mg=id-wsj

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/01/28/the-real-reason-donald-trump-is-skipping-tonights-fox-news-debate/?tid=a_inl

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/01/29/megyn-kelly-is-a-very-good-debate-moderator-heres-proof/?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_evening

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/who-had-the-worst-week-in-washington-foxs-roger-ailes/2016/01/29/0b863796-c693-11e5-a4aa-f25866ba0dc6_story.html?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_popns

http://www.economist.com/node/699638

http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2015/12/megyn-kelly-fox-news-cover-story

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/wp/2016/01/31/will-trump-ever-debate-again/?wpmm=1&wpisrc=nl_opinions

 

 

 

 

 

“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/

 

 

Whatever you admit, acknowledge or concede, particularly in a supercharged political environment, will be published or broadcast 99 percent of the time.

“I am not a crook.” – Richard Nixon

“I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” – Bill Clinton

“We fumbled the rollout on this health-care law.” – Barack Obama

obamanews

Consider as Exhibit A the following passage from the Washington Post about President Barack Obama’s Thursday news conference on the troubled Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare):

The president was contrite, and his admissions were many — he conceded that he was left in the dark about aspects of the crowning achievement of his presidency, he acknowledged that he and his advisers underestimated how hard it would be to sell insurance over a Web site…”

In most cases the media … both digital and conventional … has the attention span of a gnat. Remember the government shutdown or the debt ceiling crisis? Ho-hum. That was yesterday’s news.

What is Miley Cyrus smoking onstage or not wearing today?

Having made this point, there are obvious exceptions and these all have legs (no pun intended). These are stories that the media latch onto and, similar to a Gila monster, will not let go until sundown.

Each and every exciting installment of Watergate defined and eventually ended the Nixon presidency in utter disgrace.

The Monicagate impeachment proceedings did not terminate the Clinton White House, but to this day the president’s extracurricular activities with his intern still comes front of mind when president #42 is discussed and assessed.

And now the “crowning achievement” of the Obama presidency is unraveling before our very eyes, and with it his approval rating. The media is more than happy to report as the president and Obamacare head downward-to-the-right.

In no way does Almost DailyBrett morally equate Watergate, Monica Lewinsky and Obamacare. Nonetheless each is a seminal story that defines a presidency and each has “legs” that the media feasted or feasts upon.

Former Vice President Spiro Nolo Contendere Agnew was absolutely the wrong messenger to deliver the infamous William Safire conceived line about the media: Nattering Nabobs of Negativism.

52237408AW009_MEET_THE_PRES

Even the president seems to agree when he lectured the media Thursday: “The things that go right, you guys aren’t going to write about.” (Guess that would apply to you gals as well.)

Let’s face it: the media thrives on train wrecks and plane crashes. Like a pack of hungry hyenas, the media has an insatiable appetite for what is known in the trade, good dirt. The words, pack mentality, apply directly to the media, who conceive and spread among themselves organic ideas about precisely what went wrong.

Most of all the media elites in particular are looking for telltale signs they are right. This is where admissions, acknowledgements and concessions come into play.

Certainly, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton did not admit or concede anything regarding Watergate or Monicagate respectively. However, each in his own way (Not a Crook, Nixon and That Woman, Clinton) acknowledged for the joyful media the elephant in the room of their respective debacles.

Obama with his football metaphor about fumbling the ball did admit, acknowledge and concede that virtually everything and anything has gone wrong with Obamacare, including failing to live up to the promise that people could keep their health insurance policies, if they wish too.

Americans historically are a forgiving people.

Some contend that it would have been better for Obama to come clean earlier about his oft-repeated promise that if you like your health insurance policy you can keep it is simply not true. Was he misled by his own administration or did he mislead? Neither is good. The media wants to know.

whitehousebriefingroom

From a public relations standpoint, the right counsel is to advise the chief executive to face reality, own up, be contrite and seek forgiveness. Most of all, what is the chief executive and her or his administration going to do about it?

The rub comes with a media that is always looking for signs of weakness, particularly after building up a reputation and brand, senses that proverbial blood is in the water. Presidents, governors, senators, chief executives etc. are generally reluctant to give the media satisfaction (e.g., Nixon in particular).

And when they do, these can become defining moments that have the potential to be eternally enshrined. That was true for Nixon and Clinton. That may or not be true for Obama.

Obama’s advantage is he still has time, but not unlimited time. He officially becomes a lame duck one year from now. Somehow, someway Obamacare needs to finally work for him.

If not, the media, the historians and the country will remember his Obamacare “fumble” and the day he admitted, acknowledged and conceded.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/obamato-to-announce-change-to-address-health-insurance-cancellations/2013/11/14/3be49d24-4d37-11e3-9890-a1e0997fb0c0_story.html?wpisrc=nl_politics

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/dana-milbank-does-health-care-fumble-mean-game-over-for-obama/2013/11/15/77dc0b0a-4dfa-11e3-be6b-d3d28122e6d4_story.html?wpisrc=nl_politics

http://www.cnbc.com/id/101202677

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

http://www.nolocontendere.org/historyofnolo.html

http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/gossip/miley-cyrus-biggest-feminists-article-1.1517413

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