Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Lessons in Public Relations:

Watch yesterday's press conference with Utah mine owner Robert Murray and avoid everything he does in front of a camera.

It was nothing short of a catastrophe. The overall effect was exactly what one does not want to happen in this situation: shift attention away from the plight of the stranded miners to the antics of the owner of the mine, a transition which does not exactly inspire confidence that the rescue mission will be successful.

When that happens you get unflattering profiles written about you in the local paper, wherein the rest of the world learns that at times you can suffer from delusions of grandeur when threatening a safety regulator:

Murray backs his political beliefs with his pocketbook. He contributed more than $213,000 to Republican candidates over the last decade. Three political action committees tied to Murray's businesses have given $724,500 to Republican candidates and causes, including $4,000 to Rep. Chris Cannon.

He made use of his political ties to Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell, who is married to Labor Secretary Elaine Chao and oversees MSHA, to get back at a safety regulator who had crossed him, according to the Lexington Herald-Journal. In the meeting, Murray shouted that "Mitch McConnell calls me one of the five finest men in America, and last I checked, he was sleeping with your boss."

Murray denied he referred to McConnell and Chao sleeping together. Tim Thompson, the MSHA manager who was the target of Murray's wrath, was reassigned and later retired.

Top five? I hope that after a lifetime in politics Sen McConnell knows more then five Americans.

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