INSIDE THE BELTWAY: Microsoft’s double-dealings surprised no one, but PR-savvy Reed should have known better

Slick Ralph Reed became the object of more media attention than he had ever sought last week (which is saying a lot) when someone leaked to The New York Times that he was simultaneously a paid ’counselor’ to the campaign of George W. Bush while secretly lobbying the candidate on behalf of another client, Microsoft.

Slick Ralph Reed became the object of more media attention than he had ever sought last week (which is saying a lot) when someone leaked to The New York Times that he was simultaneously a paid ’counselor’ to the campaign of George W. Bush while secretly lobbying the candidate on behalf of another client, Microsoft.

Slick Ralph Reed became the object of more media attention than he

had ever sought last week (which is saying a lot) when someone leaked to

The New York Times that he was simultaneously a paid ’counselor’ to the

campaign of George W. Bush while secretly lobbying the candidate on

behalf of another client, Microsoft.



Reed’s PR firm, Century Strategies, was hired by Microsoft to engage in

some ’grass-tops’ lobbying of candidate Bush, so as to persuade him to

take it easy - or maybe not at all - against Microsoft during the

lengthy appeals process now looming in the wake of Judge Jackson’s

opinion that the company had ’put an oppressive thumb on the scale of

competition.’



Grass-tops lobbying, as opposed to the more familiar grass-roots

version, consists not of drumming up widespread mass sentiment, complete

with thousands of identical postcards, letters and nail boards. Rather,

it approaches a few key players who are close to the target - friends,

relatives, a religious counselor or two, maybe a key fund-raiser - in

hopes some of them will then approach the target with the message.



So Reed and his people, without the knowledge of his new patron, G.W.

Bush, began to seek out the Texas governor’s close friends and

associates so as to encourage them to go to the candidate with the

pro-Microsoft message - ’What’s so great about a balanced scale?’



All went well until someone told the Times, which printed the story.



Governor Bush was rumored to be ’furious,’ and within 24 hours Reed’s

company had issued one of those mealy-mouthed apologies that have

littered the campaign trail this year.



Microsoft, obviously, hired Reed to get Governor Bush to be

pro-Microsoft without crassly asking his client for favoritism toward

another client.



Astonishingly Reed said, ’In the course of a broader program to

encourage citizens to express their views to presidential candidates of

both parties ... a small number of individuals were (sic) encouraged to

make their views known to Governor Bush.’ In other words, ’We’ve got

some people working on Gore, too.’



But how could both Microsoft and Reed, the former leader of the

Christian Coalition, have got into this mess? How tin can their ears be?

Microsoft is easier to understand - Bill Gates has often demonstrated

that he doesn’t think conflict-of-interest standards should apply to him

or his company.



As for Reed, his political work evidently didn’t give him enough time to

read or understand the Gospel (Matthew 6:24), where it is written, ’No

man can serve two masters. Ye cannot serve both God and mammon.’ No one

since has put it better.



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