Tuesday, June 09, 2009

The worst PR person in the world

You know, I defended Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt last week because I really didn't think the racket over leaving a binder at a TV station was her fault. Because, I argued, that's not the Minister's responsibility. It's the responsibility of the aide in charge of knowing where that thing is every waking second of the day. Even while asleep, the aide should be have sporadic dreams wondering where that binder is.

Although I did say that since the Minister hired her there were legitimate questions to be asked about how competent she was to hold that position. And if she wasn't qualified, then you could certainly roast Raitt on that all day long.

Now it turns out that Raitt may have hired the worst PR person in recent history. I mean, I never went to Flack School, but I'm pretty sure the first thing they teach you in PR 101 is to not inflict catastrophic harm on your client/boss/minister. And Jasmine MacDonnell has been a rolling disaster for the minister the last week or so.

Forgetting a binder at a TV outlet and not even notice it's missing for a week is bad. Leaving a digital recorder in the hands of a newspaper reporter for months and not collecting even after they repeatedly told you they had it is insane. I'm actually astonished at the Chronicle Herald's restraint in not listening to that thing sooner and using what was on it.

Then MacDonnell launched a lawsuit to suppress the story...wow. I mean that, wow. It's an idea so breathtakingly stupid you need to step back and savor that one for a minute. I really don't think that idea came from Harper or the Conservatives. They would, I hope, know how awful that would look and how infuriated the press would get. You would think a trained PR professional would have a pretty good idea as well. They're going to use MacDonnell for years in public relations schools as an example of what not to do. Text books will have chapters about her.

Although, amusingly, I note that people on some message boards are accusing MacDonnell of being a Liberal plant out to deliberately sabatage her boss because her dad is reportedly a major fundraiser for the Liberals. Good luck selling that one, kids...

As for Raitt, well, believe it or not, I'm still willing to defend her to an extent. She made those comments in what she thought was a private conversation. And if you think that cabinet minister would never make disparaging comments about a colleague or view a crisis as a political opportunity, then you're crazy. It's embarrassing that it's on tape and out there for public consumption, but she's not exactly unique in her world view and attitude.

No, I'd be inclined to fire her at this point because Raitt had the judgement to hire the worst communications director in the world! She hired someone who managed to make her look like an idiot and then made things exponentially worse within a matter of days.

So no, I'd fire Raitt. Because she hired, and put into a prominent position, a person who lost briefing binders, accidentally taped incriminating conversations, lost the recorder and didn't go and get it and then launched a ridiculous lawsuit which exploded the whole thing like a small A-bomb. I honestly don't want to find out what other rocket scientists she's hired or what kind of judgement she brings to a relatively major file like Natural Resources.

I think now might be a good time to reoffer that resignation, Lisa.

Last Five
1. This life - Bruce Springsteen
2. Magnificent - U2
3. In state - Kathleen Edwards*
4. Revolution - The Beatles
5. Radio free Europe - REM

1 comment:

The Perfect Storm said...

The question that came to my mind was why the communication directer "accidentally" records hours upon hours of private conversations with her boss.

And not just on the one occasion that the Chronicle finally twigged to (you really think they didn't listen to that the moment they got it - especially given they got it as the result of someone saying their name was mentioned on the tape?!!).

MacDonnell recorded her boss disparaging Joy Smith on a separate occasion as well.

What else is recorded there? How many times has she gone "Opsss I Did It Again?" and left it behind at a media photo op?

MacDonnell certainly does have a motive to have repeatedly recorded private conversations and "left" them hanging around.

That it would be linked to the Liberals, goodness only knows.

It's not incompetence that she is repeatedly dropping sizable breadcrumbs behind in the form of private recordings, briefing books, and goodness knows what else emerges next.

My 2 cents is that there is something tastier still that she has not "accidentally" left behind, and the minister and the PM know it. Politics at the elite level is made of such things.

Expect to see McDonnell rehabilitated in the next short while, unless Raitt gets the boot, and McDonnell's stash loses its value accordingly.