Mmmm, love those balmy evening breezes (but ack, the smell of the air conditioner after it's been idle for months). In some mythically innocent bygone spring we might have relaxed under a shady tree, but in the all-too-real present we're surrounded instead by shady campaign advisors, shady veep negotiations, and shady superdelegate dealmaking. Well let's have an iced tea together and make the best of it....
Remember Mike Huckabee? Check out his creepy countdown, due to expire this coming Tuesday. What does he have up his sleeve? Is it his deadline for getting McCain's VP nod? New diet tool? Inside info on the Rapture?
Airlines are toast. Better make sure your summer vacation destination is driveable.
While the three major candidates were busy being bumped by American Idol Gives Back, Condi and Mitt staged some conservative idolatry of their own as they strut their stuff in behind-the scenes campaigning for a spot on the Republican ticket. Reports coming in under the radar. Expect them to pick up steam post-Pennsylvania.
Newseum fever has gripped us here at TR Central. The new, state-of-the art ode to media opens today in D.C., with 14 galleries that tell the story of news, as well as a 40-by-22-foot HD media screen. Totally our scene, right? Well, we'll see.... Rumor has it that bookings for its event space are quickly filling up with wedding parties, which, if true, means we may soon have our own version of the Central Park-style cliche locale for that must-have shot of white tulle against the skyline. And yes I know the museum cost half a billion (really) but what's with the $20 admission fee? Let's think about it for a moment: even if the nearby dinosaurs and rocketships weren't FREE, can you picture the kiddies saying "mommy! daddy! let's go look at news media stuff!" Even in a whole week, tourists can't see all the cool free stuff here. Who is going to keep the Newseum afloat? Forecast: that fee drops at least 25% within a year.
Our crystal ball tells us many of you will spend time this weekend finishing your taxes. Just keep Jimmy Kimmel's words in mind: "You know, we all hate paying taxes, but the truth of the matter is without our tax money, many politicians would not be able to afford prostitutes."
With 11 days to go before the Pennsylvania primary, Obama's campaign is doing damage control over accusations that he insulted blue-collar Pennsylvanians in his comments at a recent San Francisco fundraiser. Measured by their likely effect on the primary vote, Obama's comments (available in audio and transcript here) were clearly a misstep. The challenge for Hillary's PR team is to sustain the story beyond Friday-Saturday when people pay less attention to the news. McCain's team will help.
The Week That Was
The Tibetan freedom protestors have managed to steal the headlines. "Olympic Torch Used To Ignite Tibetan Protesters." Sorry, that's the Onion. It's Friday, so sue me.
But seriously, Iraq War critics take note! Aggressive picketing of the Olympic Torch as it makes its way around the globe has re-sparked the human rights debate with a bang. Movers and shakers such as Nancy Pelosi have even advocated boycotting the opening ceremonies. McCain jumped on the bandwagon, saying, "If Chinese policies and practices do not change, I would not attend the opening ceremonies."
Was Petraeus 2.0 a Trojan Horse? While the media fixated on hearings hype, the President suspended his planned summer troop reduction. One hundred years in Iraq is looking more likely everyday. (BTW, Petraeus reassures the curious that he will never -- and he means ever -- run for office. In case you were concerned.) "With so many more patriots to honor, the Iraq War Memorial has been extended past the Washington Monument and into the southbound lane of 14th Street." That's the Onion again.
News of Mark Penn's shady free-trade lobbying on behalf of Columbia led to his hasty demotion from chief Clinton campaign strategist. Poor guy -- we're sure his ego took a painful beating. As CEO of Burson-Marsteller, Penn has lobbying ties to bad guys of all stripes, according to reports that have swirled around the blogosphere for months. Hillary, don't you know that Caesar's wife must be above reproach?
Hey Mark, China is looking for a PR agency to advise the government on strategies to repair its image before the Olympics. Quit sniffling and call Beijing! Actually I'm just kidding about the sniffling.
Speaking of blogs, who knew? Blogging kills! So reports the New York Times. But we hear more people die in front of crossword puzzles than computers, so for geeks, it's really "pick your poison."
To all you liberal types who've been clamoring for a more effective platform with which to pummel the GOP in the general election: your prayers have been answered. Progressive Media USA, soon to be headed by Media Matters' David Brock, will take aim at McCain with a $40 million budget going into November. We'll say this: If the talking points are feeble, it won't matter, 'cuz they have $40 billion. Still, there's a big difference between hitting a single and hitting a home run. We hope they find the right message before going in so they can really knock it out of the park.
And the foundations of CBS News seem again to be a-shaking. After a year-and-a-half of disappointing ratings, it seems that $15M-per-year evening anchor Katie Couric may depart long before the expiration of her contract. What's more, CBS is rumored to be thinking of outsourcing its news reporting to The Anderson Cooper Network. As CBS News, iconic for its dominance throughout the Golden Age of News in the post-war era and beyond, declines along with its old-media counterparts, we worry about who will provide the news critical to the functioning of our democracy. Online media can more than fill the void, but with what? As soldiers blog their own coverage in war zones, can "first-hand journalism" attain the level of quality symbolized by the Murrows and Cronkites of years past? And who will handle quality control?
AS I TYPE, news arrives that Washingtonpost.com CEO/Publisher Caroline Little is out, and Katharine Graham's granddaughter Katharine Weymouth will now head both the newspaper and the web site.
Speaking of the Post, congrats to the home town paper on its six Pulitzers--the most it's ever won. Several of the Post's winning entries had online components, reflecting what Jonathan Dube of CyberJournalist.net says is a Pulitzer trend.
Speaking of online, if your bookmark collection is getting stale, browse the freshly-announced Webby Award nominees.
We'll wrap up with a quote that should bring a smile to any flack. This is from IBM product manager Mike Moran, in his luncheon keynote speech earlier this week at Media Relations Summit 2008: "Instead of looking at the Internet as a threat, look at it as something that makes everything you know more valuable than it was before-bigger and more important. You know how to get past gatekeepers because you've always had them. What you need to think about is who these new gatekeepers are on the Web. It's not the marketing people that are the hot shots at viral messaging. It's you."
In response to our bit about calls for Hillary to drop out of the race, one alert reader wrote: "I completely disagree with your assessment of Sen. Clinton. ... Keep in mind there are a lot of us, close to half of the voters, that WANT her to stay in the race." Whoa, Nelly! We here at TR Central actually DO believe in the Democratic process. Sorry if that wasn't clear.
Vets for Freedom DID get their face time with McCain and Lieberman the day of their Capitol Hill rally.
As you may know, dear readers, we're more than a snarky, adolescent e-zine. We're also a giant monolithic PR firm (or not).
We had to share... one of our clients, a research scientist, suggested a new tagline: "Smart, Quick and Not a Chicken-Shit Invertebrate." Alas, as messaging experts, we know that one should never define oneself in the negative, so our tagline must remain as is for now. Check it out at TurnerStrategies.com!