Packers Hire Smarmy White House Hack

Boy, this just gets more and more amusing: we are sent to a Fox Sports report from Jay Glazer that the Packers have hired former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer and his Fleischer Sports Communications to work with the players on handling the media, with some obvious attention being paid to the Brett Favre saga that just will not go away. (Hat tips to Pro Football Talk and the Big Lead.)

According to an Associated Press report, Fleischer met with Packers players Thursday, but the meeting was scheduled several weeks ago, before the Favre controversy flared up. The report also said while Fleischer didn’t focus on how players should handle the Favre situation, the topic was discussed.

“Obviously it’s a topic, and it wasn’t ignored,” Fleischer told the AP in a phone interview Thursday.

Unfortunately, this is a touch too late for damage control by the Packers organization. No one could have predicted the return of Favre and he is being hailed by Green Bay fans. Reports have Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy considering a preemptive strike against the Detroit Lions in order to distract from their handling of the unexpected attack by Favre. Plus, as Fleischer said later, “What the heck are we going to get out of invading Hattiesburg, Mississippi? There’s isn’t a damn thing there.”

(Invasions of Soldier Field and the Metrodome were considered, but decided against because the populations there and their defenders would be much more difficult to take down; management decided to wait until scheduled trips in the fall.)

However, if that is the case, we can universally assume that the up-ending of the Matt Millen regime by outside occupiers will be viewed as liberators, particularly the contingent prone to bringing “Fire Millen” signs to games and tailgates.

Packers hire Fleischer to consult on Favre saga [Fox Sports]
Packers Hire Ari Fleischer [Pro Football Talk]
Packers Hire Ari Fleischer – I’m Not Kidding [The Big Lead]

Smarmy Hack Advising 49ers On How To Handle The Media

You may remember that former White House secretary Ari Fleischer was peddling his public relations skills to professional sports franchises with his company, Ari Fleischer Sports Communications. Well, he’s been gainfully employed — the San Francisco 49ers are apparently his latest client, giving the San Jose Mercury News’ Daniel Brown the golden opportunity to drop this wonderful lead on us:

Ari Fleischer, who made his reputation working with Bush, was on hand Tuesday to give advice to Gore.

Frank Gore, that is.

Fleischer served as President Bush’s spokesman from January 2001 to July 2003. Now a sports consultant, he is making the rounds in the NFL. He talked to the San Diego Chargers this week, and he addressed his favorite team, the Miami Dolphins, in April.

Fleischer tells players the media have the right to ask tough questions, and the players have a right to privacy. The key, he said, is to prepare for the tough questions to keep harmony in the locker room.

“Football is a mental game and you don’t want to make mistakes on the field,” he said while watching the 49ers practice. “It’s the same thing with the press. Don’t create controversy. Don’t let the press bait you into fights.”

This from the man whom I remember distinctly telling everyone had to “watch what they say” from one of the least-media friendly administrations in history.  The testimonials from those Fleischer has advised in his new enterprise are comedy gold:

“Ari’s advice on how to handle the press and deal with difficult communications problems has been of great value to me. Ari has helped me get ready for many major media events. He understands how reporters operate, and he uses that knowledge well. It’s very helpful to have him as part of my team.”

Bud Selig, Commissioner, Major League Baseball

“I know what pressure the media can create for people in sports. So does Ari. He combines his deep knowledge of the press and how to handle them with a real awareness of the world of sports. He knows what he’s doing.”

Joe Torre, Manager, Los Angeles Dodgers

Considering the media problems both of the above men have (a league with steroid suspicion still hanging over it, despite the Mitchell report for Selig; everyone remembering how mediocre he was as a manager before the Bronx in Torre’s case), I’m not sure the work is quite done in terms of PR here.

Anyway, advice from Fleischer is likely preferable to anything a prior 49ers employee, namely one Kirk Reynolds, decided to do to help players get acclimated to the Bay Area media and the unique environment up there a few years ago.

Don’t remember? Well, what he put out happened to be a particularly raunchy video that wound up pissing off everyone, particularly mayor Gavin Newsom, considering they’d actually used SF City Hall to film it!

That’s the first of eight parts — the other videos are after the jump, and to warn, one is definitely NSFW, while the others are merely questionable.

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