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
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.