PR Week in Review 10-21-07

Mark Rose, Editor, PRBlogNewsYesterday I saw “Die Mommie Die,” a campy off-Broadway musical with a title we can certainly all relate to. About an hour into the show I thought of Amanda Chapel. After all, the lead is played by a man (Charles Busch) playing a woman (Angela) who secretly poisoned her sister and assumed her identity and later tried to kill her husband (this is all revealed during a LSD trip, no less). She’s a ballsy character with a sense of bitchy entitlement and she wins in the end despite the relentless lashing of her enemies. The PR blogger camp musical with the same plot line could have been called “Die Amanda Die” but she wouldn’t. Amanda was no Joan of Arc. She was a nasty spectral presence. Knives went through her and only seemed to feed her resolve.

It’s been nearly two weeks since Amanda Chapel bowed out of Strumpette. There were many condolences and a surprising amount of vitriolic hysterics by bloggers who had apparently suffered deep emotional scars from her deceptions, her attacks and her off-line histrionics. The conceit of the PR business is that we can remain behind the scenes, the hidden Oz pulling the strings. Amanda demanded attention and dared to be anonymous while relentlessly pursuing full-frontal accountability to her strident, often indecipherable views.

What stands from the exit of Amanda is what Rush Limbaugh might call “this glittering jewel of colossal ignorance” but would be better remembered as “a memorialized episode of group PR insanity.” It’s Robert French’s 10/11/07 post Amanda’s Backstory Reveals Ugly Character: Did you Know?, a title that could have been ripped from “Die Amanda Die” and has potential for TMZ.com on a slow Britney day if there are accompanying bald crotch shots. Instead, French ameliorates his Hollywood Confidential tale with a photo of an emaciated whore sucking on a crack pipe, and a fat unshaven guy who looks like he’s about to burp after ingesting human remains.

“Oh, I’ve been told not to write this post – many times, by many people,” French begins his sordid tale as he fights through the doubts to tell of the “vile, vulgarity-laced attacks” perpetrated by “this pitiful childish wimp,” “one sick twisted coward.” This public gut-spilling leads others to come forth with their own woeful tales of emotional abuse and professional doubt instilled by the character known as Amanda Chapel. A couple of group hugs later, French shuts down comments on the blog when the “troll” rears its head again and he finds that not everybody agrees with him.

If French was a Burson account executive who wigged out after too many hours on the Blackwater account, this outburst might be understandable. But no, he has credentials. He actually teaches public relations at Auburn University. Hell hath no fury like a slighted academic whose beliefs are challenged by someone who he feels must be unworthy, and that must be nearly everybody in this case. In a picture on his blog, French is shown counseling an impressionable student on how to post to a blog. Egads, is training a generation of crazed bloggers who will instigate flame wars and then cut off “the conversation” when the heat turns up? And where is French’s corroboration behind his tawdry sensationalism? Can the journalism department get with the PR department at Auburn and instill some professional rigor? Unless French was actually going for the “Die Amanda Die” camp effect, his post shows why the term “going PR” may replace “going postal.”

Anyway, it’s no doubt that Strumpette stirred up strong feelings in a sleepy industry that is not accustomed to showing its inner emotions. When Strumpette died, it did so completely and with no thought to resuscitation. Furthermore emerged from the ashes of the crack whore called Amanda after much cogitation and head banging among a group of contributors and admirers who feel that the journey has not yet reached completion. With the anonymity issue removed French and his ilk don’t have Amanda to loathe anymore. They now must admit that something real and important is going on here and they will have to seriously deal with it.

Rupert Murdoch goes insane

I watched the newly-launched Fox Business News through the week hoping that the joke would finally be revealed. Mad TV hijacked Fox? John Stewart was actually producing Fox Business News? What is going on here? If Rupert and Roger and crew were going for inane, unfocused programming then they have grandly succeeded. The Naked Cowboy in Times Square earns $250,000? This is business news? How do you pitch this network? Dress a monkey in an Armani suit and have it go to work as an investment banker? This idiocy makes me really appreciate CNBC. It elevates the conversation about business and finance so average people have access to intelligence that is usually restricted to Wall Street and big players.

Fox Business News somehow tries to see the sunny, happy side to massive property foreclosures and a tanking market possibly foreshadowing a recession. Have a nice day! It is frightening to think that Rupert will find a way to break the Wall Street Journal’s contract with CNBC and force Journal reporters to become part of this TV business circus. Through many years and many battles Rupert has proved himself to be a dark genius who has a secret understanding of base human instinct. But this? They need to find a way to turn this around quickly or this could be Rupert Murdoch’s folly that undermines his march into business news, and cheapens his acquisition of Dow Jones.

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