More McClellan Fall Out: I Told You So

Last Updated Jun 13, 2008 1:40 PM EDT

Leave it to a lawyer-turned-journalist to be the one to take the bait and use the Scott McClellan tell-all as an opportunity to rip the PR industry. I told you this would be one of the consequences of McClellan's sell out.

It happened on CBS Sunday Morning [I resisted posting this all week but felt called to post it today]. Commentator and legal analyst Andrew Cohen:

"Apparently, an industry the very essence of which is to try to convince people that a turkey is really an eagle has a rule that condemns lying.

The Public Relations Society of America states: "We adhere to the highest standards of accuracy and truth in advancing the interests of those we represent..." This clause strikes me as if the Burglars Association of America had as its creed "Thou Shalt Not Steal."

Show me a PR person who is "accurate" and "truthful," and I'll show you a PR person who is unemployed.

The reason companies or governments hire oodles of PR people is because PR people are trained to be slickly untruthful or half-truthful. Misinformation and disinformation are the coin of the realm, and it has nothing to do with being a Democrat or a Republican."

Of course, PRSA couldn't avoid taking Cohen's bait:
"Contrary to baseless assertions, truth and accuracy are the bread and butter of the public relations profession. In a business where success hinges on critical relationships built over many years with clients, journalists and a Web 2.0-empowered public, one's credibility is the singular badge of viability. All professionals, including attorneys, accountants and physicians, aspire to ethical standards, and public relations professionals are no different, always striving for the ideal."
Catching Flack's take on this: Mr. Cohen, the legal profession has more than its share of liars and truth-shaders. In fact, it could be argued that lawyers are simply a better trained and better compensated group of liars and truth-shaders. Your self-righteousness rings rather hollow.
  • Jon Greer

    Jon Greer has been analyzing media and PR for more than 25 years. He's been a journalist and a PR executive, and has been a featured speaker for many years at the Bulldog Reporter Media Relations Summit, and served as Bulldog's Editorial Director for their PR University series of weekly how-to audio conferences.

    Jon provides PR services including media relations and freelance writing to clients including start-ups, law firms, corporations, investment banks and venture capital firms. In addition, Jon provides spokesperson training. Learn more about Jon's training programs at The Media Bridge.