Spin The Coyotes

Screen shot from Fox Kitchen Nightmares

What! You like HOCKEY!

What if you wanted Greg Jamison to go away?

What if you managed to get a story published that made it appear Greg Jamison was begging for a deadline extension while providing public assurance his bid was likely to succeed? That would make him look bad, wouldn’t it? It would make it easier to later dismiss him as a legitimate contender to own the Coyotes, right?

Sure it would, and it did.

All Publicity Is Good Publicity

A local PR guy tweeted a ludicrous comment insinuating the measure of the seriousness of Coyotes bidders is directly related to the number of visits they have paid to his friend Jerry Weiers:

“New #PhoenixCoyotes bid serious barometer:  how many times, if at all, met with #glendale mayor.”

Dakota Spinning Amy's Today

Dakota Spinning Amy’s Today

The same firm volunteered or has been hired to Rumpelstiltskin the straw of the Amy’s Baking Company disaster. The theme is blaming their client’s tragically misanthropic behavior on cyberbullying. Not THEIR cyberbullying, that of the nefarious “hackers” that controlled their sites and Yelped them ferociously. Click here to read about that, or just trust me for now.

The ironic thing is they might succeed.

Before you dismiss the “volunteered” word above, estimate how many times the firm name will be mentioned FOR FREE in national press. Then decide if a PR firm wouldn’t understand the value of that publicity.

Success or failure of their campaign isn’t even that important in the spin biz.

Admire the artistry of the above tweet spinning the Coyotes story that points a virtual finger at “also ran” bidders while pumping up the royal stature of the mayor in less than 140 characters.

Amy’s = Coyotes?

Cross reference that with the recent ”Six Million Or Less” spin action in Glendale. Briefly, a story was published by the same author in the same media outlet we’ll be talking about here. The target of the story was a reduced amount (from $12M-$15M to $6M or less) ”legitimized” for an arena management agreement.

To add gravitas to that story, it was soon followed by tweeted comments (by the author) quoting a Glendale Council Member backing up the premise of the story.

For some reason, Mr. Giblin rarely responds to comments and questions from local Twitter accounts, preferring to direct his responses to Canadian people that are almost exclusively anti-Coyotes and anti-Glendale.

History Repeats Itself

Something very similar happened earlier this year when the January 31 expiration date passed for the renegotiated arena management agreement between Glendale and Hockey Partners.

A statement attributed to then brand new Glendale mayor Weiers by Pulitzer Prize winning reporter Paul Giblin in a piece published the very next day detracted considerably from the credibility of Greg Jamison. It was promoted later in a tweet:

And not very much later that statement disappeared from the article. The damage remains and, in fact, is permanently emblazoned on the Internet.

That’s what spin is about.

Not A Cracker Jacks Prize

This is a BIG DEAL, seriously (Huffington Post)

This is a BIG DEAL, seriously
(Huffington Post)

In 2009, Mr. Giblin (with Ryan Gabrielson) was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for local reporting for a five part investigative piece in the East Valley Tribune about the famous Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

He scored other awards for the same series and has been around the reporting business for awhile. The point of this post is NOT to denigrate Mr. Giblin, but rather to offer an example of media manipulation that’s being repeated as we speak.

Mr. Giblin has paid plenty of dues in the reporting game and has been recognized for excellence. Certainly, he has more than enough chops to report a story about a missed deadline in Glendale.

Yet, Mr. Jamison personally, unequivocally, denied the request was made. What could be the explanation?

Dig For The Truth

So, Mr. Giblin is a journalist unlikely to make things up. So we should assume there was, indeed, a statement to Giblin from mayor Weiers that he (Weiers) had received a call from a lawyer requesting an extension of the deadline for Jamison.

Got an extension?

Got an extension?

From there, the next decision is if Mr. Weiers was lying or if he actually DID receive such a call later passed along to Giblin for publication.

If it’s the latter, you’d then have to decide the plausibility of Mr. Weiers believing the person on the phone was a lawyer and was representing Mr. Jamison. For the purposes of this exercise, none of that matters.

When presented with ANY opinion, one looks at the veracity of the people involved and their incentive to lie. My opinion, matched by the opinion of MANY other people I’ve spoken with, is that Greg Jamison is an honorable, ethical guy. So, his statement is good enough for me.

If it’s not good enough for you, answer this: Why was the statement from Weiers subsequently removed from the story? Was there a sudden shortage of dark electrons at the AZ Republic that needed to be addressed? Probably not.

Set Up The Hit Piece

Click here to read the AZ Rep article in question. I have not been able to find the original copy of the article online, so what you read is the prose with the deadline extension request statement removed. I printed it, today, to a PDF in case the online version was changed again.

A statement from Glendale mayor Weiers that an attorney for Greg Jamison had called him and requested an extension of the deadline. That statement has since been edited out of the article.

Yet, the physical page name for the piece remains: “20130131glendale-mayor-jamison-asks-for-extension-on-coyotes-deal.html”. Why?

A common search engine optimization (SEO) technique is to name the physical page with the title of the piece. Depending on the blog software used at the AZ Rep, it’s likely an automated process. In this case, it appears the title of the piece may have originally been “Glendale Mayor: Jamison Asks For Extension On Coyotes Deal” when it was being composed.

If you visit the link and go to the bottom of the article, you’ll see a comment from yours truly (assuming it hasn’t been deleted as well) objecting to the statement from Weiers that had been categorically denied by Mr. Jamison. Please also note the date of the article is now February 1, 2013 08:59am, despite my comment time stamped 01/31/2013 11:17am.

If you assume I didn’t time travel to make my comment, the article was changed after being published.

And the statement about the request for extension is missing.

Okay, so the story was corrected as it should have been, was there damage done?

You Can Never Take It Back

Google Results (click to embiggen)

Google Results (click to embiggen)

Open Google, type “jamison deadline extension” in the search box and submit your query. My query returned SIX MILLION results.

The third result on my screen is the article we’re talking about DESPITE the word “extension” not existing anywhere in the piece. Does Google know how to generate accurate search results? Yup. The reason the source article still appears in the results is the page name we discussed above.

The first link in the search results takes you to a page on the “SBNation” sports blog site. Because that blogger has published things since, you have to go a bit down the page to find the post with a summary of the information the blogger apparently found in Giblin’s original piece. I’ll excerpt what Matt  Brigidi wrote:

Phoenix Coyotes prospective buyer Greg Jamison asked Glendale Mayor Jerry Weiers for an extension to the lease agreement deal while he continues to attempt to purchase the team, according to Weiers as told to Paul Giblin of the Arizona Republic.

To no surprise, Weiers denied the request.

The call came after 9 p.m. (Arizona time) on Wednesday from one of the attorneys representing Jamison. Weiers declined to identify the individual but did state that he requested an extension on the 20-year, $300 million-plus arena lease agreement to Jobing.com Arena.

You can see that Matt linked to Giblin’s original piece, yet NONE of the text he includes remains in Giblin’s article. Was Matt making it all up, or was it there when he wrote his blog post?

Even assuming Matt stole Giblin’s text word for word (a NOT uncommon technique in the blogosphere), it doesn’t matter now because it sounds plausible and is attributed to a Pulitzer winning author. It’s essentially a “fact” for any person researching whether Greg Jamison requested a deadline extension.

Get Even Lazier

If you are even too lazy to open any of the actual search results, you’d see the following on the actual results page:

  • an extension request from Greg Jamison on the arena lease deadline.
  • Weiers told the paper that when questioned, he refused to extend the deadline further
  • Weiers said of extending the deadline: “Obviously, we’re not going to do that.”
  • Weiers told the paper that when questioned, he refused to extend the deadline further
  • Weiers told the paper that when questioned, he refused to extend the deadline further
SBNation Screenshot (click to embiggen)

SBNation Screenshot
(click to embiggen)

That’s only the first page of results, the first ten of nearly SIX MILLION. So, now it might as well be called a “fact”. How many of the people researching Greg Jamison requesting a deadline extension will contact Mr. Giblin or Mr. Weiers or the unnamed

It has become a “fact” despite the FACTS it’s not true and the source article that ALL of those results used has been edited to remove the bogus statement. It’s become a “fact” like the magical $6M arena management number and the $75M Glendale has paid the NHL “for hockey”.

All are burned into the fabric of the Coyotes saga despite all being false.

That’s carefully placed, impeccably scheduled and extremely effective spin. It’s not by chance.

What’s The Motive?

I have two ideas, for now let’s deal with the more obvious one.

Jerry Weiers made a campaign promise, with the assistance of the PR guy, of NOT extending an offer similar to the Hockey Partners deal to ANY bidders to follow. One of the bidders to follow would certainly be Greg Jamison.

If anyone wanted Jamison to start off even MORE crippled than he would be coming off such a disappointing loss, wouldn’t a picture of him begging the new mayor for an extension add to his “disgrace”?

Wouldn’t refusing an extension immediately add credibility to a no-nonsense image for the mayor, if that’s what one wished to convey?

Sure it would. And the same PR guy that’s looking to resurrect the image of a couple that was so horrible even Gordon Ramsey couldn’t stomach them is in the circle of people cultivating that “don’t mess with me” image.

Watch  the juggling of facts and the antics used in the attempt to bring Amy’s Baking Company back to life. There’s a “grand opening” filled with folks hand picked by the PR guy on Tuesday. There’s an “open house” at Amy’s tomorrow to find new staff (that will hopefully not be cyberbullied by the “hackers”). I guarantee you there will be LOTS of cameras at both events. Each camera, despite being sent to cover a “disaster” story, removes a little more nausea and “stank” from Amy’s.

That’s PR spin. Remember that same activity is being heavily applied (in a less public fashion) to the Coyotes sale and arena management agreement.

It’s an embarrassment and if you hear ANYBODY use the words “optics” or “narrative”, suspend belief immediately.

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