Pentagon voice upbraided for disclosing Tripp’s info

WASHINGTON, DC: The line between public and private information can be an easy one for PR pros to trip over. Pentagon spokesperson Ken Bacon found this out the hard way last week when he was publicly upbraided for having released Linda Tripp’s dossier.

WASHINGTON, DC: The line between public and private information can be an easy one for PR pros to trip over. Pentagon spokesperson Ken Bacon found this out the hard way last week when he was publicly upbraided for having released Linda Tripp’s dossier.

WASHINGTON, DC: The line between public and private information can

be an easy one for PR pros to trip over. Pentagon spokesperson Ken Bacon

found this out the hard way last week when he was publicly upbraided for

having released Linda Tripp’s dossier.



In March 1998, Bacon and then-deputy Clifford Bernath released Tripp’s

1997 security-clearance form (which did not include information about

Tripp’s arrest as a teenager) in response to a request from New Yorker

reporter Jane Mayer. Bacon, unlike the Pentagon Inspector General,

considered the disclosure of the information a step towards ’open

government.’



But Tripp’s attorneys viewed Bacon’s actions much less charitably,

accusing him of waging a ’public relations smear campaign’ against their

client.



Even Secretary of Defense William Cohen took Bacon to task, calling the

move ’hasty and ill-considered.’



Communications experts contacted by PRWeek were split on the propriety

of Bacon’s actions.



Christopher Arterton, dean of George Washington University’s Graduate

School of Political Management, thinks that at the very least, Bacon

should have brought the request for information to the attention of his

superiors.



’There are both privacy concerns and public concerns with the release of

public information,’ he said. ’But it would seem to me that the privacy

concerns trump the other concerns in this case.’



Northern Virginia-based PR consultant Hal Warner, however, disagreed,

speculating that Bacon’s release of the clearance form had ’made some

people unhappy’ rather than creating actual damage to Tripp’s

reputation.



Added DC-based Hill & Knowlton senior managing director Charles McLean,

’So Ken Bacon is guilty of leaking? Big deal. As for me, I’d like to

know a little more about that Linda Tripp felony charge.’



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