Fenton, French's, and Fatalism

Also published at Democratic Underground at http://www.democraticunderground.com.

Two quotations first.

Washington Post, March 27, 2003:
Special interest organizations of every stripe are having trouble pushing their messages through the fog of war. It has been especially tough for the liberal activist nonprofits touting environmentalism and other causes unrelated to the dominant story. Thus the Washington-based public relations firm Fenton Communications, which has been flacking for left-leaning outfits and cause celebs such as Susan Sarandon and Martin Sheen for the past two decades, recently issued a PR primer to harried clients. It’s titled “Fenton Fundamentals: Navigating Media in Wartime.” The e-mailed version begins: “DON’T bash Bush. 2 out of 3 Americans approve of Bush’s handling of the confrontation with Saddam Hussein. In times of war — especially the early stages — the public’s instinct is to stand behind its leader. You won’t win any allies by alienating yourself with harsh attacks.” But that “Fenton Fundamental” is missing from the list of dos and don’t on the firm’s Website, fenton.com. When we asked CEO David Fenton to resolve this mystery, he initially claimed ignorance. “I don’t even know about that,” he told us. But after several testy exchanges, he finally acknowledged yesterday: “I didn’t write it. We have a very able staff. But I did not agree with the proposition that people shouldn’t feel free to criticize the president. That seemed anti-Jeffersonian. I objected to it, so they took it off the Web site.” We hope Fenton feels fundamentally better for having told the truth.

New York Times, March 28, 2003:
Then there is French’s Mustard. A news release this week proclaimed, “The only thing French about French’s Mustard is the name! Robert T. French’s All-American Dream Lives On.” The release waved the United States flag as vigorously as it could, proclaiming that since 1915 French’s pennant emblem has symbolized “French’s affiliation with baseball and American celebration.” The news release said French’s was produced by “New Jersey-based Reckitt Benckiser Inc.”

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