In a story that could easily be a skit for Saturday Night Live, the leading public relations firm MWW has hired former Congressman Anthony Weiner to give advice to the firm which specializes on “crisis communications.” Presumably MWW clients will identify with someone who created his own crises and then managed them. The only problem is that Weiner managed his self-inflicted crises not just badly but disastrously . . . over and over again.
On a purely resume review, Weiner would seem a particularly bad choice for a consultant on how to manage a crisis. He is positively radioactive in politics and the butt of continuing jokes among comics. He is viewed as a self-made public clown. First he sent creepy texts with bizarre naked pictures, including images of his genitalia to unwilling females. He then lied about the images and texts. He then was forced to admit the truth but fought to retain his seat. He then was forced to out of Congress. He then created a second scandal after adopting the named “Carlos Danger” and resuming his creepy texting. He again managed that crisis by stonewalling and making the scandal worse. He then ran a perfectly horrible campaign for New York mayor that produces 1000 jokes to every vote that he garnered. He managed that crisis by making an obscene gesture at the press as a farewell to the media. (Presumably this will not be one of the options he suggests for MWW clients facing media scrutiny).
The preposterous notion that Weiner would be an asset in shaping public relation messages for companies or individuals in crisis has led to a serious question. The allegations center around Michael Kempner, who heads MWW. Kempner is also a New Jersey Democrat with close ties to the Clintons. Kempner was a National Finance co-chair for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 Presidential run, Deputy Finance Director of the Obama campaign, a member of Obama for President National Finance Committee, and is a member of the DNC National Finance Council. He was also listed as one of Clinton’s “Hillblazers’’ — having raised more than $100,000 for her campaign since April.
The Clintons have been accused of using a network of connections, including their controversial charity, to guarantee positions for political operatives like Sidney Blumenthal.
While many view Weiner as irretrievably damaged goods, his wife is not. Huma Abedin is the closest aide to Clinton and is expected to be a major player in the Clinton Administration if Hillary is successful. Ironically, she has also been accused of being given overlapping lucrative public and private positions.
Critics have charged that Kempner is employing Weiner as a favor to Abedin and Clinton. The suggestion that Weiner will attract clients seems curious given the torrent criticism and mocking of the firm. Indeed, the coverage was so bad that MWW had to re-spin the story.
In fairness to MWW, the response was not all bad. The trade publication O’Dwyer’s insisted that MWW has made “a shrewd and gutsy move” and calling Weiner, “a straight-talking, no BS, street-smart guy, a personality type found lacking in most large PR firms.”
At first, MWW issued a statement that heralded Weiner as a “brilliant strategist [with] expertise on many issues” and that it was “pleased to welcome” Weiner to its “board of advisers.” The firm said that Weiner would be “a great asset to our firm” and available to help clients on “the workings of Congress and the City of New York.” When various articles immediately surfaced mocking the very notion of Weiner being an asset to a public relations firm, the firm issued a new statement that Weiner will not be involved in crisis communications with clients but rather “policy”: “Anthony Weiner is an expert on public policy and will not be expected to service clients directly. As a member of our Board of Advisors, he will be a part time consultant to the agency, primarily focused on policy matters and new business development.”
So MWW has hired one of the most self-destructive figures in politics to work in the public relations area but now says that he will not be allowed to work directly with clients and would only offer advice on “policy.” That actually makes the position sound more like a political favor by Kempner. If it were a favor, it was a poorly managed one. Kempner has succeeded in rekindling questions of the networks of friends supporting an array of Clinton allies. It has also guaranteed a sure-fire way to prolong the absurdity in the Weiner story and give it new life. If Weiner had been given a job as a stock broker or investment adviser, it might not have even made the papers. However, a public relations firm? It was a guaranteed way to put Weiner and the Clinton connection back in the major media. Not exactly what the firm promises by saying that is “newsworthy, buzzworthy, and trending.”