GW ad fails Reagan’s verify test


Ronald Reagan and his wife, Nancy, wave from the Bethesda Naval hospital after his surgery for colon cancer, July 18, 1985. (RAY LUSTIG/The Washington Post)
Al Kamen
Columnist June 24, 2013

A new TV ad for George Washington hospital invokes the dramatic shooting of President Ronald Reagan, who was whisked there after being hit by a would-be assassin’s bullet, as well as his triumphant recovery.

But some of the footage is a bit out of context, depicting Reagan’s rehabilitation at the then-Bethesda Naval Medical Center, not GW — and from a visit about four years after the shooting.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993. View Archive

Here’s how it goes:

In the TV spot, a voice worthy of an action-movie trailer intones: “In one of the world’s most powerful cities, one hospital stands strong: The George Washington University Hospital.”

The visual is that of an illuminated night shot of GW.

The ad then cuts to a clip of the chaotic aftermath of the 1981 Reagan shooting, followed quickly by a shot of Ronald and Nancy Reagan waving from a hospital window. The president, clad in what appears to be a bathrobe, flashes an okay sign with his hand.

“These moments define us,” the dramatic voice concludes.

But as an astute Loop fan points out, that image of the smiling first couple was filmed not at GW but at the naval hospital. And it wasn’t taken in the aftermath of the shooting, but rather after the Gipper’s successful treatment for colon cancer in 1985.

It’s perfectly legitimate for GW to take credit for saving the 40th president, but the images used to tell the story aren’t chronologically (or geographically) precise.

In a statement, GW explains that it bought the footage from a company that sells stock footage, and that it was incorrectly labeled thusly: “President Ronald Reagan and wife, Nancy, wave from hospital windows shortly after the 1981 assassination attempt.”

Now that it has learned of the error, it will be swapping the image for something more true to life.

“Creatively, the video provides closure to the assassination attempt showing a happy resolution with President Reagan and his wife Nancy,” said Laura Riddle, a producer at Contrast Creative, the firm that created the ad. “We will be replacing this video with a more historically accurate shot.”

Diplomatic dispatches

The White House has released its latest slate of diplomatic nominees, including a handful of career Foreign Service folks and two top political donors.

Denise Bauer, who was finance chairman for Women for Obama and a big donor to both of Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns, is getting the keys to the embassy in Belgium. Another generous giver, Chicago consultant James “Wally” Brewster, is heading to the Dominican Republic. (Try the chicharrones in Barahona. The best.)

As expected, former Office of Personnel Management director John Berry is Obama’s pick for Australia. (Gay-rights groups are no doubt applauding the nomination of Brewster and Berry, as they had been pressing for the White House to fill top ambassadorships with more openly gay nominees).

Also, Michael Hammer, assistant secretary of state for public affairs, is the pick for Chile, and longtime Mideast and South Asia hand David Pearce, a former Washington Post copy editor, is headed to Greece.

Assistant AG pick switched

We were hearing talk recently that former Justice Department official Amy Jeffress, the department’s attaché at the U.S. Embassy in London, was a leading contender to be nominated to be assistant attorney general for national security.

Jeffress, who had been Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr.’s national security counselor, was said to be his pick to succeed Lisa Monaco, who replaced CIA Director John Brennan as the White House chief homeland security and counterterrorism adviser.

Appears now that the White House is looking closely at the rest of the field of possibilities, particularly John Carlin, former chief of staff and senior counsel to FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III and now the acting assistant attorney general for national security.

Meanwhile, the White House announced that Caroline Atkinson will be the new deputy national security adviser for international economics, replacing Michael Froman, who was recently confirmed as U.S. trade representative.

Atkinson, formerly a top official at the International Monetary Fund and the Treasury Department, began her career right here at The Washington Post and other publications.

Filling the Cabinet

Look for two more Obama Cabinet officials to be confirmed this week. As expected, the Senate has agreed to a vote on the nominations of Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx to be secretary of transportation and Penny Pritzker to be secretary of commerce.

In a brief statement Friday afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said he and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) were working to find a time to take up the votes.

Given that both nominees got unanimous votes in committee, it’s unlikely that the full Senate votes will be close.

That leaves two nominees — Gina McCarthy, assistant administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, to head the agency and Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez to be secretary of labor — waiting for votes in July.

Moving on

Brett Loper, a top aide to House Speaker John A. Boehner, is leaving the Hill to head up the Washington office of American Express.

The loss is a blow to Boehner (R-Ohio), who relied on Loper to help navigate tricky policy issues, particularly budget battles — and with upcoming action expected on the debt limit and immigration, no doubt he’ll be particularly missed.

“Brett has been an invaluable asset, not just to my office, but also the entire House Republican team,” the speaker said in a statement.

Loper is a longtime GOP aide whose résuméincludes a stint in the office of former House majority leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.). He has spent time off the Hill, too, including jobs at Fannie Mae and AdvaMed, the Advanced Medical Technology Association.

Boehner did not immediately announce Loper’s replacement.

With Emily Heil

The blog: washingtonpost.com/
intheloop
. Twitter: @InTheLoopWP.

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