PR WINNER OF THE WEEK: “A” (PR PERFECT) TO New York University, for delicately but firmly pushing back on allegations that it was shoving Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng out the door for political reasons. The blind legal activist who escaped house arrest in Beijing last year received a law school fellowship at NYU when he arrived in the US. Last week, he claimed the school was forcing him out, worried that his attacks on the Chinese government were endangering the school’s academic aspirations in China, where it recently opened a campus in Shanghai. A school spokesman gave the “puzzled and saddened” response to Chen’s atttack, noting that his fellowship was only ever intended to last one year. Third parties chimed in as well, with one saying no political refugee had ever received better treatment and that Chen had at least two desirable employment options at other universities.
PR LOSER OF THE WEEK: “F” (FULL FIASCO) TO Charles Saatchi, co-founder of the famed Saatchi & Saatchi advertising giant, for explaining away as a “playful tiff” his apparent assault on his wife, celebrity chef Nigella Lawson, at a tony London restaurant. Photos show the 70-year-old businessman with his hands around Lawson’s neck, something he says he did “to emphasize a point” during a debate over their children. Lawson was seen in tears after the incident, and reportedly has since left their home. For his part, Saatchi accepted a caution from local police, meaning he acknowledged the event and has been warned. For someone with presumably superior instincts about image, Saatchi has badly erred with his outrageous conduct, in public, with implausible explanations.
THE PRV “THERE’S NO ‘THERE’ THERE” AWARD TO the latest search for the body of Jimmy Hoffa. Thirty-seven years after the mysterious disappearance of the union leader, authorities dug up a field in Detroit in search of Hoffa’s body. The tip seemed viable, coming from a former Mafia underboss, though one with a book to publicize. Embarrassment over the lack of body was mitigated by authorities’ assurance to taxpayers that the cost of the search was only for three days of digging machinery and rental of portable toilets.