NEW YORK: For more than three decades, which included his
unsuccessful run for president in 1992 and 16 years of public service in
Nebraska as governor and US Senator, the press were unaware that more
than 13 Vietnamese had been slain at Bob Kerrey's behest.
In 1969, Kerrey led a raid of the city of Thanh Phong in Vietnam's
Mekong Delta. Six Navy SEALs killed 13 civilians and Kerrey won a Bronze
Star for the raid, an award he often left off his official
The man who called former president Bill Clinton 'an unusually good
liar,' proved himself an unusually adept crisis PR manager, however.
Kerrey preempted the publication of a three-year New York Times
Magazine/60 Minutes II investigation with his own confessional press
conference in New York City days earlier. It earns him a PR Play of the
Week for getting out in front of a possible crisis.
Kerrey told Newsweek, which had sat on the news since 1998, that he
finally went public with his story to get ahead of what he anticipated
would be damaging press from The New York Times Magazine and 6o Minutes
II. The Times reporter had interviewed Gerhard Klann, a Kerrey
squad-mate who said Kerrey had ordered civilians rounded up and shot,
and 6o Minutes II had traveled to Vietnam to speak with Viet Cong
veteran Pham Tri, who said she saw the American fighters methodically
Michael Powell, partner in Westhill Media Strategies, began work with
Kerrey a week in advance of The New York Times Magazine story. He called
the press conference a 'pre-emptive strike. This was not a PR strategy,'
Powell said. 'The goal was to tell the truth as best one can after 32