The Big Pitch: Can the FBI rehabilitate its credibility in light of the recent Waco revelations?

Brian Gaudet

Brian Gaudet

Brian Gaudet

Manning Selvage & Lee

Washington, DC

Yes, but not now. The time for the FBI to begin the rehabilitation

process lies somewhere down the road - beyond the daily flow of ’new

revelations;’ beyond the review and findings of the yet-to-be-named

independent investigator; and beyond the Congressional hearings. While

these events are being played out in the media spotlight, the FBI needs

to fully cooperate: turn over all the evidence and tell the truth. Then

- and only then - can the FBI begin to rehabilitate its public image

There is no way to ’spin,’ stonewall or shortcut the process and return

the FBI to its once-vaunted stature.

Jack Agnew

Agnew, Carter/MS&L


The FBI difficulty with the Waco affair is not a PR problem, but a

management problem at the agency. Supervisors apparently kept

information about the use of incendiary devices under wraps, which now

has led to the current crisis. When will those in Washington learn that

full and early disclosure saves a lot of embarrassment down the road?

The FBI can rehabilitate its image because it is an institution that

people want to believe in, even if individual agents or supervisors make

mistakes. Clearly, they now must not only make a full disclosure of the

facts about Waco, but openly admit any past errors or misstatements.

What they should not allow is having the information pulled out of them

in dribs and drabs over a long period of time by either the independent

investigator or the media.

Gary Morgenstein

A&E Television Networks

New York

Rehabilitating an image that has been grounded in the myth of J. Edgar

Hoover - one of the original image-makers of the century - requires the

FBI to go back to basics. Step one, the FBI must tell the truth about

Waco. Beyond that, what the agency needs is to put a human face on its

mission by redefining it to the American people. Why do we need the FBI

in the 21st Century? They must answer this question before community

centers, veterans’ groups and soccer moms - the whole works, as if they

were running a political campaign. Tell us who you are, what you do and

why we need you. And for God’s sake, when it presents a spokesperson,

let the guy wear something other than a dark suit and white shirt (and

dark glasses - Ed).

Kathy Bremer

Porter Novelli


The FBI must start by changing the subject and updating the public about

its accomplishments. What role, for instance, has the FBI been playing

in reducing crime and addressing issues the public cares about? Let’s

contemporize and humanize the FBI for Generations X and Y. What about

the ’10 Most Wanted’? Where are the visible, high-level women and

minority leaders? It must answer the questions ’What has the FBI done

lately?’ and ’Why should anybody care?’ As for a longer-term strategy,

it should create an issues platform, and take stands and make news on

things that relate to problems people care about - like violence, drugs

or terrorism.

The FBI must involve itself more visibly in educating kids and making

life safer for Americans.

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