WASHINGTON: Two DC PR agencies eagerly fanned the flames of election-year scandal last week - one for the left and one for the right.
Creative Response Concepts (CRC), the VA-based agency promoting the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, used right-wing blogs and news sites to turn a CBS report casting doubt on President George W. Bush's National Guard service into a potential black eye for both the network and the Democrats.
A CRC client, the Cybercast News Service (CNS), was among the first to voice suspicion that documents suggesting Bush had received preferential treatment in the Guard were forgeries.
"After the CBS story aired, [CNS] called typographical experts, got them on the record that these papers were fishy, and posted a story by 3pm Thursday," said CRC SVP Keith Appell. "We were immediately in contact with [Matt] Drudge, who loved the story."
CRC worked with CNS and the Media Research Center, another media watchdog client, to push the story into the mainstream press.
"We've been communicating with bloggers and news websites to make sure they know it isn't just Rush Limbaugh and Matt Drudge who are raising questions," added CRC president Greg Mueller.
CBS News, which at first stood defiantly behind its reporting, succumbed to the pressure by Wednesday, releasing a statement conceding the papers might be false, but maintaining that the sentiments expressed in them were authentic.
"Enough media outlets were talking about it, and you can't deny that it's a big story, so we felt it was important to address it," said Sandy Genelius, CBS News VP of communications.
Meanwhile, Doubleday Press, which was on the defensive regarding claims in its new Kitty Kelley book that the President used cocaine at Camp David when his father was in office, used Ein Communications to ward off attacks from the White House and GOP strategists.
Jeff Ingram, VP of strategic communications, confirmed that Ein had been tapped in early August in anticipation of the controversy over The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty.