On Friday, Think Progress reported that former Bushie Ari Fleischer had “secretly” been helping to guide Susan G. Komen Center for the Cure’s media response to the Planned Parenthood public relations disaster that has engulfed the organization.
Critics argued that this proved Komen has not been the apolitical actor in this drama that it has claimed to be.
In an interview just now, Fleischer confirmed to me that he had given some advice to Komen’s controversial director, Nancy Brinker. But he said that it was informal, that others were leading the group’s PR effort, and that he had not been asked to help the organization going forward. He described Brinker as a “friend.”
“They ask me stuff, they say, `What do you think about this statement, about that statement,’" Fleischer told me. “And I give them my thoughts. But obviously somebody else was leading their PR efforts. It certainly wasn’t me.”
“She called me two times last week,” Fleischer added, speaking about Brinker. “When Nancy calls, I’ll give her my informal advice.”
Asked what advice he had given Komen, Fleischer declined to specify. But he emphasized he’d played no role in advising the group on its now-infamous You Tube statement, and on its subsequent decision to hold a press conference, both of which turned into PR disasters.
“Somebody else is doing and driving their PR and I wish them the best of luck. Komen’s a great group and they need help,” Fleischer said. “No one has talked to me about helping them going forward.”
Fleischer’s role aside, it now seems clear that Komen has not succeeded in putting this whole mess behind it, as the group had hoped. It’s still unclear whether Komen will actually give Planned Parenthood grant money in the future, which means it’s likely that the organization will endure a whole new barrage of pressure in the future — from both sides.
UPDATE: Fleischer also explained his role this way: “they asked me for a recommendation of a PR firm they could hire and I sent them some names.”
Also: Komen has been seeking help from Ogilvy Public Relations, and one of its executive vice presidents, Brendan Daly, a former aide to Nancy Pelosi.