Posted by Mark Rose
One two three four we don’t want your stinkin’ war
“Don’t Tase Me Bro!” became the rallying cry of disenfranchised college students this week as one slightly unglued academic took the zap heard round the world at a John Kerry speaking event. YouTube videos of the tasing became the subject of news segments, T-shirts went on sale the next day, designer tasers were hot items on eBay. That was but one sign of the return of radicalism in America. Other signals included arrests and riot police at a boisterous anti-war rally in Washington D.C. and a march on Jena, Louisiana that was reminiscent of Selma a generation ago. It harkens back to a time when all you needed to get out your message and attract the media was adept sloganeering and a willingness to confront authority. Only now we have the power and simplicity of the Internet to amplify and sustain dramatic local news. The video Jena Six, a photo story, has been viewed 260,000 times in the past two months.
Of course, for every effective protagonist there is an equally forceful antagonist. You have Rudy Giuliani more than willing and able to step into that role. Rudy jumped all over the New York Times MoveOn.org ad attacking General Petraeus as ‘betray us’ with his own attack ad in the Times the next day as he commandeered the headlines with a sneering rebuke of the pantheon of elitist, liberal east coast media. General Bush, sensing that the story had legs and feeling frisky by the Republican slapdown of Democrats attempt to legislate an end to the Iraq war, waited a week before deeming the ad “disgusting” and insinuating that Democrats were cowards who did not respect the military.
I said it before and it’s worth repeating, Bush is the most masterful PR President we have seen. Like Rudy, he’s a fearless gut player unencumbered by intellectual self-reflection or any sense of compassion for his political enemies. In a perverse way, you have to admire Bush’s media savvy, and the fact that Rudy, a brutal media in-fighter himself, refused to be interviewed for a series of stories on him in the Times last week.
Naked and missing
Strumpette lived up to its tag as the “Naked Journal of the PR Business” last week with a bronzed nude that was definitely not Steve Rubel, the ubiquitous blogging gadgeteer. We imagine that this post elicited a rash of masturbatory activity behind walled off cubicles at PR firms and consequently lead to increased production in media pitching. There is no truth to the rumor that Playboy is planning a spread on the “Girls of Strumpette” or that Britney Spears is staging a dance routine on the episode as the cornerstone of her latest comeback. Also, we have found no proof to substantiate the rumor that it is a Photoshopped picture of Aedhmar Hynes, the MIA CEO of Text 100, who has not posted to her blog since last May.
Here now the news
Dan Rather, 75 years old, refuses to go gently into that good night. You won’t see him smiling, sailing off the Cape and reminiscing about the good old days like his predecessor Walter Cronkite. No. Dan, who apparently suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder so extreme that age cannot temper it, must embark on what may be the biggest story of his career: how CBS screwed him. When I read that Rather has hired investigators and lawyers and is suing CBS for $70 million it seemed like a petty vendetta from an overwrought has-been news Anchor.
Then I read Peter Himler’s assessment of this in The Flack and I realized how juicy this could be. If you want to know how to rob a bank, you get Willie Sutton. Who better to unveil the ugliness and political intrigue of network news than Dan Rather? What does Rather hope to prove? "I think we're going to find out just how much interference at the corporate level there is in national news stories," he told the Washington Post. In this case, did CBS sacrifice Rather to appease the global terror-hungry Cheney-ites running roughshod at the time?
When the legal dust settles, or as it unfolds, Rather should produce his own series on his findings. Rather spent 44 years at CBS. He is a bona fide investigative journalist. He’s been to war. Why is he being treated like the Bobby Bonds of TV journalism? He could distribute his expose through the web. He doesn’t need CBS to bless his legitimacy. He earned it.
That’s what I felt like doing after reading the comment of Peter C. Waldheim of WOMMA (Word of Mouth Marketing Association) to the Strumpette post: Should the FCC investigate word-of-mouth marketing. We haven’t heard such drivel since … hmm, last week, when J. Jarvis curlicued his way up the stairway to oblivious obfuscations. I never got WOMMA. They charge absurd fees, they are stocked with committees and groups and whatnot by big corporations that dictate according to their own self-interest. I sat in on a WOMMA conference call once and you get the standard big software company, online provider, content distributor mid level bloated ego drone talking theoretical nonsense - people who have too many non-billable hours and asses to kiss (more of a Steve Rubel audience). That’s not half bad for a trade group with a bureaucracy to support, but do we have to endure Waldheim slinging puke-inducing bull? Does anybody do PR for this guy? Some advice: a) don’t let him post such idiocy, especially here b) find out what he’s talking about c) try speaking the native language, English.
Mark Rose is editor of PRBlogNews - a web publication focusing on public relations practices in the digital age.
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Damn fine commentary Mark. I disagree with your take on Bush being media savvy by jumping in a week late to bash the MoveOn ad. No credit for following the famous speaker, Tip O'Neil's political mantra, "Never kick a man when he is up."
When does the "Girls of Strumpette" calendar come out?
Matt Gentile from the Beach Chair
(FloridaMoves.com - 300 Days of Sunshine)
You have to appreciate Bush's media savvy. The Demos were on a roll to finally dictate the war and Bush engineered Petraeus, defeated Demo legislation and pushed Demos back on the defensive - all with some brilliant PR maneuvering ... and Rove wasn't even in the White House. Give the devil his due. He stole or won two elections, sold a war, sold the after-war or whatever we're in now. Giuliani is his natural successor. Rudy and Hillary will go at each other tooth and nail, they have been saving it up since their aborted NY Senate showdown. Juicy.
"Girls of Strumpette" might appear about the time we finally see the Strumpette panties we're holding our breath for. Like WHEN?
I don't know that he's exactly sold the afterwar, given his poll numbers. Whatever's the opposite of coattails, he's got 'em--kryptonite lapels? Though I agree that tactically he remains bafflingly good at buffaloing the Dems.
Comments on the WOMMA were right on. Waldheim is in dire need of an editor or he will be like his namesake west of Chicago: a large Jewish cemetary.