Wall Street Journal’s Cowardly Response

 Wall Street Journals Cowardly Response

The PR Verdict: "D" for the Wall Street Journal.

Is that as racy as love letters get?  E-mail correspondence between Brett McGurk, President Obama’s nominee for U.S. ambassador to Iraq, and his then-paramour Gina Chon, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, has members of Congress very excited. For the rest of us it’s hard to see what the fuss is about.

The e-mails, dating from 2008, were posted anonymously this week on Flickr–bad timing for McGurk, a top adviser on Iraq who is currently going though congressional approval for the job of US ambassador. Congressional members are concerned that while McGurk was working on tough negotiations with Iraqis, his future wife Chon covered the talks for the WSJ. Could he have leaked to her classified information?  If so, they’ll have to try to stay awake while reviewing e-mails such as McGurk’s “I had a very good day with the Iraqis–the best yet. Can’t tell you about it of course. But you should definitely stay past Sunday.” Chon’s reply: “Stop being such a tease!”

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland breezily washed her hands of the issue, telling CNN, “I’m not going to get into e-mails between Mr. McGurk and the woman who subsequently became his wife.” The WSJ had a more cowardly reply to CNN,  “We are looking into the matter.”

The PR Verdict: “D” (It’s a Dud) for the Wall Street Journal who could have tried harder to defend its journalist. If the State Department can sound annoyed, why can’t the WSJ?

PR Takeaway: Where’s the beef? The WSJ might have tried publicly shifting the burden of proof onto the accusers: “Which article does the committee think contains leaked information? We would be happy to look into the matter.”  Then sit back and wait for the response.  And while we are there, how about privately suggesting to members of Congress that they stop calling the emails racy? In this day of Fifty Shades of Grey, they’re hardly blush-inducing.

To read the racy letters and for more background click here.

Getting Naked with John Travolta

johntravolta Getting Naked with John Travolta

The PR Verdict: “B” for Travolta who was quick with a robust and unequivocal denial.

What else is there to know about John Travolta and his genitals?  According to a thrillingly prurient and detailed lawsuit filed by an unnamed masseur at the Beverly Hills Hotel, the public now knows more than it ever expected.  After recovering from allegedly being groped by the iconic star, the distressed masseur is now suing Travolta for damages.

Seeking $2 million (what might have been claimed if they went all the way?) the masseur’s filing (his name has been withheld) gives a minute-by-minute retelling.  He claims Travolta’s erect penis is approximately 8 inches in length and his pubic hair is “wirey (sic) and unkempt.”  Travolta, on being rebuffed, yelled “Hollywood is controlled by homosexual Jewish men who expect favors in return for sexual activity.”   Undoubtedly an odd response… but bring on the headlines!  They’re guaranteed!

Team Travolta responded with indignation and anger. “Untrue!”  and “False!”   None of the events claimed ever occurred, said his rep.  Besides, Travolta wasn’t in LA at the time of the alleged incident.   The rep said they would fight it and once thrown out, cross sue the masseur for malicious prosecution.   But hold on!  Now a second masseur has come out and joined the Californian lawsuit, claiming Travolta made similar moves at a hotel room in Atlanta.

The PR Verdict: “B” for team Travolta who were quick off the mark with a robust and unequivocal denial. Credibility is going to be strained though if additional complainants join the lawsuit.

PR Takeaway:  As complicating facts emerge it becomes tougher to stick with flat out denials and indignation.   Why not feign indifference?  What a frivolous and cynical lawsuit!  We have handed it to our lawyers.  Point out that Travolta wasn’t even there on the night in question while conceding agreement on three points: the masseur is suing for $2 million in damages, he never approached the police and he filed his opportunistic complaint anonymously.  Next question?

To read more click here

Who would you place money on? Team Travolta or the Masseur.

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