Communications/Media Week-in-Review: May 25-31, 2009

Sports + Media + Politics + Entertainment + Business

Veteran White House correspondents will tell you the toughest story to break is a President’s Supreme Court nominee. So a hearty high-five to Ben Feller of the Associated Press, who beat the competition by at least a couple of minutes with the story Tuesday that President Obama would name Sonia Sotomayor as his nominee for Justice David Souter’s seat.

The AP didn’t stay happy all day, however. After the word was out about the Sotomayor nomination – but before President Obama had made the official announcement – the White House made senior advisers available to reporters to discuss Sotomayor – but only on the condition the advisers’ names not be used. This is a fairly common tactic – a good way to shape the story and get some pre-emptive information out without upstaging the boss, but this time it did not go over well. Jennifer Loven of the AP is the president of the White House Correspondents’ Association and she teed off, in part because in her view the TV reporters don’t have to play by the same rules. According to Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz, Loven said, “We protest in the strongest terms the Obama Administration’s frequent use of briefings done on a background basis…especially when the same officials briefing often appear ubiquitously on television shows with similar information.” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told Kurtz it was “interesting” that the AP squawked on a day when their own reporting in breaking the Sotomayor story included unnamed sources. Kurtz’s terrific analysis from Wednesday’s Post, “Fighting to Win the Sotomayor Spin War” (that was the headline in the print edition) may be read here: .

And speaking of Kurtz, he is well worth following on Twitter – @HowardKurtz…and for more inside White House media insights, we recommend CBS Radio’s Mark Knoller – @markknoller.

GET THE TELEPROMPTER OUT OF THE WAY! Know I am veering into broken record territory here, but check out the photo from President Obama’s East Room announcement introducing Judge Sotomayor as his Supreme Court nominee.  Inexplicably and unnecessarily, her face is obscured by the omnipresent teleprompter plate. And we’ve seen this movie before in prior events with VP Biden and HHS Secretary Sebelius. This is an odd blind spot for the President’s advance/comms teams, which normally are stone cold on the Presidential stagecraft.

USA TODAY PRINTS COVER STORY REPORTED ENTIRELY ON TWITTER: I suppose history was made Thursday when USA Today’s Del Jones exclusively used Twitter to do his reporting for a Money section cover story on the topic, “Is the U.S. economy evolving away from capitalism?” He used tweets from a number of executive luminaries, including ex-GE CEO Jack Welch and AOL co-founder Steve Case. My favorite tweet was from Chris Jenkins, CEO of exec search firm Harrington & Reed, who wrote, the new capitalism is spelled “Capitol-ism” due to the intervention of the government. Read the story here:


PLAY - BUT IS IT LEGAL?: LPGA Commissioner Carolyn Bivens told Bloomberg News Thursday that  she “encourages” players to post content on platforms such as Twitter or Facebook during tournaments, even though using a hand-held device violates traditional on-course etiquette. Bivens said, ”I’d love it if players Twittered during the middle of a round. The new media is very important to the growth of golf and we view it as a positive, and a tool to be used. If we’re going to get out of the collared shirts and khaki pants and make golf chic, hip, happening, Christina Kim is exactly the kind of player to reach out and make golf a lot more relevant.” The official rules of golf are silent on the issue, but the USGA is expected to let the LPGA know if mid-round Tweeting represents some kind of rules violation.

CNBC’s SPORTS BIZ REPORTER SAYS NFL’s McCARTHY IS BEST TWITTER-ER AMONG SPORTS PR GUYS: Darren Rovell’s CNBC sports blog is always worth checking out, but especially so on Friday when he ranked the best sports accounts to follow on Twitter with examples of best recent tweets for each. Shaq takes Rovell’s top prize, and NFL comms VP Brian McCarthy (who handles the biz issues) get top kudos for Twitter use by a PR guy. Read it here:

NO LEBRON-KOBE MATCHUP FOR ABC/ESPN, BUT CLEVELANDERS ARE THE ONES WHO ARE REALLY HURTING: As disappointed as ABC/ESPN execs must be that they won’t have the ratings-magnet matchup of LeBron James vs. Kobe Bryant for this year’s NBA Finals, save your sympathy for long-suffering Cleveland fans. With the Cavs falling in six games to the Orlando Magic, Cleveland’s pro sports championship-free streak – which dates to the LBJ Administration and the Browns 1964 NFL title – continues. Okay, Indians, it’s on you. USA Today columnist (and Toledo native) Christine Brennan wrote a terrific column about the local suffering here:

PRESIDENT CLINTON SAYS PRESIDENT BUSH “DESERVES A LOT OF CREDIT” AND THAT IS NOT A TYPO: In a joint appearance with President Bush in Toronto Friday, President Clinton told the crowd that President Bush “deserves a lot of credit” for appointing the most diverse Cabinet of any Republican administration (maybe any Administration up to that point) and for his work to stop the spread of AIDS in Africa. President Bush often gets props for his extraordinary Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, but rarely for his record of appointing women and minorities to senior positions, including his Cabinet.

PAY TO PLAY? PERJURY? GO AHEAD, SENATOR…REPEAT ALL THE NEGATIVES: It may not be the first rule in the media coaching manual, but it’s in the top three: When being interviewed, do not repeat negative assertions made about you. I guess Senator Lloyd Burris (D-Ill.) missed that lesson. Check out his quote in Wednesday ‘s AP story about the release of a transcript of a conversation in which Burris offers to “personally do something” for then-governor Rod Blagojevich’s campaign fund. “ Did I try to buy the seat? Never. Did I commit perjury? No.” Should you have said those two sentences? No.

INTERESTED IN SPORTS BIZ? RUN, DON’T WALK TO JOE FAVORITO’S SITE: If you are interested in best practices and networking opps in sports marketing/communications, highly recommend – a terrific blog by the former Sixers, Knicks ad WTA communications chief who is now working with the International Baseballl Federation to help get baseball restored to the Olympic program for 2016.

FINAL POPS: NHL TV ratings for the conference finals on Versus were highest for the NHL on cable since 1998…Michigan and Ohio State announced they won’t print those big, glossy media guides any more – PDF City from now on…congrats to my former colleagues at NBC Sports – this week at the Sports Business Journal Sports Business Awards, NBC won in the Best in Television category and Dick Ebersol was named Executive of the Year.