Editorial: Hillary’s mistake? It’s clear as mud

There’s an old adage in PR that says when the media call, there are only two words you should never say: ’No comment.’ Alas, this mantra is only half true, and Hillary Clinton and her communications team don’t seem to have figured this out.

There’s an old adage in PR that says when the media call, there are only two words you should never say: ’No comment.’ Alas, this mantra is only half true, and Hillary Clinton and her communications team don’t seem to have figured this out.

There’s an old adage in PR that says when the media call, there are

only two words you should never say: ’No comment.’ Alas, this mantra is

only half true, and Hillary Clinton and her communications team don’t

seem to have figured this out.



When it was learned that a just-released book alleges that in 1976,

Hillary Clinton called a campaign aide a ’Jew bastard,’ the

communications team huddled together and mulled its options. Flanked by

Nita Lowey, a Jewish Congresswoman and Clinton ally, Hillary addressed

reporters at her Westchester home and vigorously denied the charge. But

her response only dignified the story and allowed it to escalate.



Think about it. This is an allegation from a former reporter for The

National Enquirer. The book has an obvious republican bent. Furthermore,

there was an obvious collusion to be hinted at in the fact that the book

is published by Rupert Murdoch-owned Harper Collins, and followed up

first by The New York Post, the Murdoch-owned and vehemently

anti-Hillary tabloid, and secondly by the Murdoch-owned Fox News.



Hillary and her communications team could and should have been able to

kill this story easily with a quick rhetorical question. ’Listen, is

Hillary Clinton anti-Semitic? Do you want me to show you all the

examples of the support she has lent to this community, all the Jewish

friends she has?’ Her record should speak for itself. Instead, it gets

mangled by the media.



The White House operations of husband Bill Clinton prescribe that in

this age of 24/7 news media, you must have a response for

everything.



It’s about time that myth was exposed for its flaws. Sometimes the best

response really is to say nothing. While some of the more garrulous

among the PR profession might like the sound of their own voice, the

smartest PR people are paid handsomely to keep stories out of the press,

or to downplay and avert potentially damaging stories that appear in

obscure publications or unknown Web sites by shutting up.



In PR, it’s not just a question of teaching clients what to say. A lot

of PR is about giving advice on whether to be in the press or not. It’s

about advising them of when to mud wrestle or not to mud wrestle.

Because if you’re going to mud wrestle, be prepared to get dirty.





Does Eskew need a PR babysitter?



Speaking of ’no comment,’ what was Carter Eskew thinking when he allowed

himself to be quoted in The New York Times recalling the time when his

boss, Al Gore, had asked him whether he should stay home and baby-sit

his grandson or join Tipper and his daughter at the Million Mom March in

Washington? The story ran last week as an example of Gore’s apparent

inability to work out who he really is.



Eskew is one of the smartest guys in this business, and it’s rare to see

him quoted, because he knows how important it is to remain in the

background. But on this occasion he obviously let slip. He was lucky to

keep his job.



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