Former Bush appointee helps AARP balance image

WASHINGTON: To help adjust the view among some conservative media commentators that the AARP is a "left-leaning" organization, the AARP has hired Bush Administration political appointee Brian Marriott for the newly created position of publicity director.

WASHINGTON: To help adjust the view among some conservative media commentators that the AARP is a "left-leaning" organization, the AARP has hired Bush Administration political appointee Brian Marriott for the newly created position of publicity director.

In overseeing booking of broadcast interviews for AARP spokespeople and improving the AARP's media relations training program, Marriott said his hire reflects a general push by the AARP - which has more than 35 million members aged 50 and over - to boost the profile of the organization in public policy debate within various venues, including Capitol Hill and the media. 

"Some people have the perception that the AARP is a liberal or left-leaning organization," said Marriott, thought the organization is nonpartisan. "They've received some criticism from right-wing media and cable shows. With my hire, hopefully we'll be able to begin altering that."

Marriott said that to date the AARP has tended to react to news events instead of aggressively seeking to shape debate in the media about issues like the Medicare Part D "coverage gap."

Marriott since 2001 served as special assistant for media relations to the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, and also managed press relations for President Bush and Vice President Cheney during travel.

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