“This is CNN.” Nothing sounds so authoritative as the voice of Darth Vader. When James Earl Jones lent (well, leased) his smooth baritone to the network, CNN was in its heyday. From Washington to Warsaw, there was a time when movers and shakers around the world always kept a TV tuned to CNN, even if only on mute. Once labeled, “The most trusted name in news,” CNN was the gold standard for real-time broadcast journalism. Those days now appear to be over.
With the recent public relations fiasco surrounding President Trump’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey, there has been considerable comment about the White House’s lack of a coherent communications strategy. Comey’s firing seemed to catch the administration’s communications staff off guard. Sarah Huckaee Sanders’ explanation that the firing was driven by a memo from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein critical of Comey’s handling of the Clinton email investigation was quickly undercut by the president’s public comments.
If only United Airlines CEO, Oscar Munoz, had been paying attention, he could have learned a few things from how PWC handled their debacle. After a video surfaced showing a bloodied passenger being dragged off one of their overbooked planes by security, a social media firestorm erupted, sparking extensive media coverage and public outcry. Munoz, who ironically was named PRWeek’s Communicator of the Year last month, quickly issued a tone-deaf, non-apology that blamed the customer.
These days we’re seeing a lot of red herrings in the United States. The Democrats rant about the Russians helping Trump steal the election. The Republicans scream about Susan Rice’s involvement in surveilling, unmasking and leaking regarding the Trump campaign/transition team. These are simply diversionary tactics that play upon human nature (see The Scorpion and the Frog). These diversions are incredibly powerful.