Thursday, March 12, 2009

To everything (spin, spin, spin)

In real life, off the Internets, I am a PR person. I write press releases, develop promotional plans, wheedle journalists to get stories written, serve as a spokesperson and sometimes train people to give successful media interviews. I tell them things like "Don't wear dangly earrings on television; they are distracting to the viewer." I also give more important advice like how to control a conversation and ensure that your messages are heard, how to bridge from something you don't want to talk about to something you do, how to make sure people remember the most important things you say, etc. Don't worry, I've (mostly) only used my media relations powers for good. Yeah, I did some corporate work once upon a time, but, hey, I'm no Ari Fleischer.

The former White House spinmeister was on "Hardball" with Chris Matthews last night, still humping for the Bush administration like a good flak. Knowing all the good media relations tricks makes watching political interviews like this one a hell of a lot of fun. The tactics really are shockingly transparent, but in the hands of a pro like Fleischer, the usual PR do-si-do looks like Baryshnikov dancing a work by Balanchine. But this is why I worry; I hope all that slickness doesn't obscure from the public Fleischer's many lies and deflections.




Just to be clear, what Fleischer is doing in this clip is called lying not the more delicate spinning.

Fleischer says, "After September 11 having been hit once how could we take a chance that Saddam might strike again?" Again? The Bush team is still trying to slyly tie Saddam Hussein to 9/11. Saddam Hussein never struck the United States...ever. And it doesn't matter if 100 years from now, Iraq becomes the Garden of Eden with peace and gumdrops for all. It is not moral to invade a sovereign nation that has not attacked you and without evidence that an attack is imminent. Period.

Bush did not inherit a recession. He did inherit a considerable budget surplus, which he squandered (like Reagan before him). Funny that the Republicans who are so apoplectic about Obama's spending plan were so silent while one of their own got us into this mess with tax cuts for the wealthy, an illegal and expensive war, and no oversight for corporate behemoths.

Fleischer's prevarication was seasoned with some good old-fashioned bullshitting. I swear, if I hear one more Bushie crow about him "keeping us safe"--as if 9/11 didn't happen on W's watch, after he had been warned by the Clinton administration and members of his own team, and as if it isn't near impossible to assign credit for something [another attack] that didn't happen.--I shall scream. The truth is that Bush's policies have created a situation where we are far more likely to be attacked than we were on Sept. 10, 2001. Of course, pointing out that 9/11 happened on Bush's watch provokes righteous indignation from Fleischer. ("How dare you!" Notice that Fleischer is grinning before he launches into his faux outrage. I take that to mean even he knew how ridiculous he was about to get.)

PR folks have a bad reputation. Oily men like Fleischer don't help matters. This isn't the way it's supposed to be done. The Public Relations Society of America has a Member Code of Ethics. Right there on page two it says:
ADVOCACY

We serve the public interest by acting as responsible advocates for those we represent. We provide a voice in the marketplace of ideas, facts, and viewpoints to aid informed public debate.

HONESTY

We adhere to the highest standards of accuracy and truth in advancing the
interests of those we represent and in communicating with the public.

So, see there. Don't go tarnishing us all for Mr. Fleischer's sins. He's one guy who needs some honesty in his advocacy.

I'm with Chris Matthews. After Fleischer's bold lie/B.S. about how the Bush administration's actions prevented Saddam Hussem from striking again, Matthews responded, to close the interview:
"I'm proud that we no longer have an administration that uses that kind argument...and the American people are too."

Indeed.

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