Vick Fix? NFL Launches Ad Campaign

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick (7) walks to the locker room in the fourth quarter of a game against the New Orleans Saints at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta in this Dec. 12, 2005 file photo. (AP Photo/Ric Feld)
AP Photo/Ric Feld
The Skinny is Keach Hagey's take on the top news of the day and the best of the Internet.

It might seem improbable that anything positive could come from the Michael Vick dogfighting scandal, but today's papers bring word that it's been good for business for at least three (albeit somewhat less than beloved) groups: PETA, politicians and advertising executives.

The NFL called in Madison Avenue in an attempt to "protect the strength of our brand," as one senior NFL VP put it, after a year in which "news coverage of professional football has read more like a police blotter," according to the New York Times.

The antidote to reports of star quarterbacks hosting animal torture tournaments and pleading guilty to felonies? Or leaving the scene of the accident after crashing their Lamborghini?

You might think it would be images of players volunteering at the Humane Society or working in a soup kitchen - but you'd be wrong. The televison and online ad campaign that begins today will take up a quarter of the league's consumer advertising budget for the year. It shows images of player performing such acts of heroism as reading to their children and - brace yourselves - calling their mothers.

Dogfighting Busts, Bills Are Also Up

Meanwhile, USA Today reports the Vick case has raised awareness of the blood sport to such a degree tips to PETA and the Humane Society have doubled since mid-July, prompting a surge in dogfighting busts. Police pursued at least 42 new dogfighting cases in July and August, up from 17 in those two months last year, according to the Humane Society.

The new, Vick-inspired public outrage over dogfighting has also given politicians a no-brianer of a bill to introduce this summer. Dogfighting is illegal nationwide, but already lawmakers in half a dozen states have urged stiffer penalties for the sport.

Hsu, Me?

The story of Hillary Clinton's fugitive bundler Norman Hsu -- which the Wall Street Journal sort-of-broke on Tuesday and the Los Angles Times added spice to on Wednesday -- hit most front pages today, as Democrats ran screaming from the money they were only too happy to take just a few days ago.

The New York Times reports that Clinton is giving to charity the $23,000 he donated to her campaign and reviewing the thousands of dollars more that he had raised - which is pretty funny considering that her campaign spokesman was on the record defending Hsu's donations earlier this week.

Hsu released a statement that he had no idea there was a bench warrant for him outstanding in California, pointing out that he had been living the kind of very public life that wouldn't be wise for someone who actually knew he was a fugitive. The Times quotes part of it, and the Wall Street Journal runs the whole thing.

Although many Democrats who took money from Hsu are distancing themselves from him, the Journal reports that one recipient of his largess is sticking up for the Hong Kong-born apparel magnate. Pensylvania Gov. Edward Rendell is keeping the $40,000 he received from Hsu's fundraising network.

"He has never asked me for a bloody thing, which in our business is unusual," Rendell said. "Virtually everyone who gives you money asks for something."

Rendell said Hsu apparently just liked going to the parties and talking politics.

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