THE BLOG

BP's PR Pick of Cheney Minion is a Politically Tone Deaf Media Move

06/02/2010 05:59 pm 17:59:15 | Updated May 25, 2011

When British Petroleum's fortunes are sinking as fast as oil continues to rise out of the puncture their rig put into the Gulf bottom, who you gonna call to do your PR? Anne Womack-Kolton, the former campaign press secretary for Vice President Dick Cheney.

Yes, the 2004 spokesperson for the Dark Lord of Republican politics whose handiwork is all over yet another epic disaster for America, is coming to the aid of BP today.

Perhaps it is unfair to tar Ms. Womack-Kolton, whose other career lowlights include assistant stints with the 2000 Bush campaign, the Department of Energy (DOE) and in the White House. Nah. It's about right.

She has also worked for the British PR commandos of the Brunswick Group, one of the few horn-tooters that doesn't like to boast its own client list, possibly because they specialize in "trouble shooting" for a good chunk of the FTSE 100, including Shell Oil, Rolls Royce, Unilever, and Barclays, according to a third-party outside source.

Yes, nothing says forthright communication with the public like hiring a PR person who was part of the great mendacity machine of the Cheney-Bush Administration, and no, I did not get that backwards.

"It was not a popularity contest for which we chose her. It was based on her merits," BP Spokesperson Toby Odone told Talking Points Memo.

The first thing that Ms. Womack-Kolton should do is fire Mr. Odone. Right now, everything that office at BP does is very much about the company's popularity, which is dwindling by the minute.

In addition to attorney general Holder's investigations into the disaster and the 15% dive in BP's market cap, gas boycotts of BP are being staged around the country.

The first good move in hiring a PR person is to acquire someone who is a net asset, not a liability to the task of putting out the political and social firestorm that has accompanied this epic disaster.

Even hiring her former bosses at Brunswick, a company with a much more low-profile reputation as media firemen, would have been smarter than bringing on someone to defend the company who already has a target on her back.

Ms. Womack-Kolton can make her first priority, after she has her desk nice and in order, to write up a release spinning how her hiring is anything other than a slap in the face to the Obama Administration and the public concerned about BP's awful stewardship of the environment around one of their rigs.

What it speaks volumes about is BP's bigger disaster than the Gulf spill: Controlling it's tarred public image. While people in the Oil Patch don't regard Cheney with the same kind of Sithian dread that most of us from the center to the Left do, failing to recognize that your media blowout preventer is as flawed as the one down at the bottom of the ocean reinforces calls to nationalize BP temporarily until they can find someone not so piteously stupid and inept to run things.

My shiny two.