Just how typical are guys like Mark Penn in your industry?
‘Cause the controversy du jour today is this story in the LA Times about Penn’s role in the Clinton campaign:
As the campaign faces a make-or-break moment, some high-level officials are trying to play down their role in the campaign. Penn said in an e-mail over the weekend that he had “no direct authority in the campaign,” describing himself as merely “an outside message advisor with no campaign staff reporting to me.”
“I have had no say or involvement in four key areas — the financial budget and resource allocation, political or organizational sides. Those were the responsibility of Patti Solis Doyle, Harold Ickes and Mike Henry, and they met separately on all matters relating to those areas.”
Howard Wolfson, the campaign’s communications chief, answered that it was Penn who had top responsibility for both its strategy and message. Another aide said Penn spoke to Clinton routinely about the campaign’s message and ran daily meetings on the topic.
He’s the CEO of Burson-Marsteller, a big-time global PR firm and WPP subsidiary, so I’m sure he’s got some skills, but watching this election season I’ve never seen anyone try so hard to convince the world that up is down, night is day, and 1+1 is 3 — and be so seemingly bad at it.
I mean, PR people are usually incredibly effective at what they do. What am I not getting here? What’s the deal?