To help you make your decision, I will present evidence in the form of a dialogue between myself and an actual publicist. First the excerpt.
Me: So you knew it was wrong when you sent it out?
FitzGibbon Principal Publicist Naomi Seligman: Yes.
Me: When are you sending out the correction?
Seligman: I don't think I'll send a correction.
Now for the background.
As we all know, accused Wikileaker Bradley Manning currently lives in the Quantico Marine base brig while awaiting trial on beaucoup charges that could land him in prison for the rest of his life. Apparently the young Army Pfc doesn't like being in jail. In order to raise public sympathy for his cause, the accused traitor has secured the services of a public relations firm. Enter FitzGibbon Media.
Today FitzGibbon sent out a press release.
The missive had a hyperbolic meet-us-in-Quantico headline:
Hundreds to Gather to Condemn Abu-Ghraib Treatment at Quantico as Un-American
It continued with:
[blah blah...blah blah blah...yappity yap... more hyperbole,
followed by list of supporters only a Weather Undergroundsman could love]
And then the good stuff:
On the evening of March 2, 2011 PFC Manning was inexplicably stripped of all his clothing by the Quantico Brig and left naked in his cell for the next seven hours. His clothes were returned to him the following morning only after he stood to attention in front of the rest of the clothed inmates, still naked. The same thing occurred the following night and morning and it is now unclear when or if this treatment will end.
Sounds horrendous, right? No one should be made to sleep naked without good reason. Which is precisely the case with Bradley Manning. The accused prospective-life-prisoner lost his clothes because they endangered his life.
Before Manning lost his night clothes, he openly talked about suicide. He didn't just mention it in passing. He specifically told someone how he would kill himself. In suicide prevention lingo, this falls under the category of "having a plan." Which requires intervention.
Manning's plan involved killing himself with his underwear. And yes, it can be done. Jail inmates have been known to hang or strangle or choke themselves with all sorts of found objects, including the reworked waistbands of their Fruit of the Looms. The Marine Corps guards had no choice but to act on Manning's threat in such a way as to ensure his safety. If he had been a depressed Marine threatening to shoot himself, they would have confiscated his weapon. In this case, they properly took away his underwear. As an aside, can you imagine the resulting discourse if Manning had been found lifeless with his underwear tightly cinched around his neck after making that threat?
Now, back to the press release.
I did not understand why, in light of the suicide threat and resulting sensible action, FitzGibbon claimed that Manning was inexplicably stripped of his clothing. I thought perhaps the p.r. firm mistakenly had sent out a draft or an incomplete version of the press release. I called the person who sent me the notice.
The following is excerpted from my conversation with Naomi Seligman, who runs FitzGibbon's west coast office.
|Molotov cocktail, anyone?|
Naomi: It went out okay. You should have the entire press release.
Me: Something is missing from the one I got. Mine says he was inexplicably stripped of his clothing.
Me: But he lost his clothing because he said he would use it to kill himself.
Naomi: We didn't detail everything about that.
Me: About why his clothes were taken away?
Me: But it's not inexplicable. There is a reason.
Naomi: I understand that. It's been reported.
Me: He said he was going to kill himself with his underwear.
Naomi: What you know is right.
Me: About him threatening to kill himself with his underwear....
Me: I'm looking through the press release, and I don't see that in here, where they took his clothes because he said he would kill himself with his underwear.
Naomi: We didn't put that piece in there.
Me: Why not?
Naomi: This is just an advisory for the rally.
Me: But that is the point of the rally. To protest mistreatment. You say he inexplicably lost his clothes. But there is a legitimate explanation for why his clothes were taken away.
Naomi: I don't think we're going to clarify that.
Me: About why his clothes were taken away?
Me: But your press release gives a false picture of what happened.
Naomi: It's only an advisory...
Me: ...to get people to come to the rally?
Me: The press release is wrong. It's inaccurate. When are you sending out the correction?
Naomi: I don't think I'll send a correction.
Me: Okay, so just to clarify. The information in there is misleading; you know it's misleading; but you're leaving it as is?
Made up your mind yet on those questions I asked?
The rally is 2 p.m. on Sunday near the main entrance at Quantico. Participants will include Daniel Ellsberg of Pentagon Papers fame, and retired Army Col Ann Wright, last seen schmoozing with Hamas operatives and thumbing her nose at Israel during the Mavi Marmara incident.
Other FitzGibbons clients include the "progressive" group Win Without War; the National Campaign to Close Guantanamo; and agit-propsters MoveOn.org.