A subtle blame game may be developing between two former executives most widely suspected of playing key roles in Enron Corp.'s collapse. Former Chief Executive Jeff Skilling and ousted Chief Financial Officer Andrew Fastow have both made carefully controlled media appearances in the company of the attorneys representing them in scores of civil lawsuits and government inquiries extending all the way to Congress. In both instances, the men or their lawyers distanced themselves from blame, suggesting others were responsible.
PR trade publication O'Dwyer's PR Daily reports: "Robert Monks, Chairman of LENS Investment Management and Ram Trust Services, has filed a resolution calling for the separation of the Chairman and CEO positions at ExxonMobil because he believes the current holder of the posts, Lee Raymond, and his denial of the global warming problem is destroying the reputation of the energy giant. Monks says Raymond's 'extreme position' and negative public image is the reason that ExxonMobil's stock is 'undervalued compared to its peer group when it should be at a premium.'"
PR trade publication O'Dwyer's PR Daily reports: "Omnicom has established SafirRosetti to spearhead its foray into the 'business intelligence' and 'executive and personal protection' arenas. Former New York City Police Commissioner Howard Safir and ex-Kroll Assocs. and IBM Security Director Joe Rosetti head the operation that Omnicom CEO John Wren calls a 'natural extension' of the communications combine's business."
"If there was no Afghanistan story," writes Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz, "the press would be going nuts over Enron. It's the biggest corporate collapse ever, the firm employed some top administration officials and the CEO was a Dubya pal. Enron has been a big business story, but hasn't drawn the kind of daily-drumbeat political treatment that often surrounds corporate chicanery with a strong whiff of scandal."
"The American economy has officially entered what promises to be the worst recession since the early 1980s and, conceivably, the worst since World War II," writes economist Robert J. Samuelson. "But you'd hardly know from the media, which have treated the economic story as a sideshow. ... Editors have subconsciously delegated their jobs to Wall Street," which refuses to stop hyping over-valued stocks. "Editors would no doubt resent being cast as Wall Street's lackeys. But that is the effect."
Energy trading corporation Enron has hired "two of the nation's most respected strategic communications firms--Kekst & Company and The Brunswick Group" according to the Holmes Report. The firms have been working with Enron to assist with crisis communications as the company begins bankruptcy proceedings. Holmes reports Kekst has handled numerous projects requiring crisis management for Enron over the years, starting with a crisis involving the company's Puerto Rican water operations. This time Kekst was called in when Enron's financial troubles became public.
Corporate decisions to slash the budget of news organizations have created a media environment that invites public relations manipulations. Now Jon Snow, one of Britain's most respected journalists, has launched a furious attack on his own TV network for "reducing its commitment" to news and current affairs. Ten years ago, ITV spent
How will the President of the United States make millions, if not billions, from the war on terrorism? He'll probably inherit it, according to this collection of reports on the Carlyle Group, a secretive $12 billion private equity firm based in Washington that has parlayed a roster of former top-level government officials, largely from the Bush and Reagan administrations, into a moneymaking machine. Its members include prominent world leaders such as George Bush, Sr.
Faced by controversy regarding its links to the bin Laden family and high-ranking government officials, the Carlyle Group has has named Chris Ullman, a former official with the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, as its vice president for corporate communications.
Public Campaign, an advocacy group that campaigns for election finance reform, has launched a new website called HowDareThey.org to challenge wartime profiteering by corporate lobbyists. The site features information on topics such as the airline bailout, airline security weaknesses, the high cost of pharmaceutical drugs like Cipro, and the "economic stimulus package" that recently passed the House of Representatives. "We have our hands on our hearts, saluting the flag, mourning the people who are dead, and at the same time these special interests are trying to pick our pockets.