I found a humorous article in The News & Observer of December 4, 2010, titled “Agency will help Vick fix image: French/West/Vaughan signs NFL star/ex-con.” First and foremost, NFL quarterback Michael Vick would not need to address image problems if it were not for the media. Prime example is that the subtitle calls him an “ex-con.” The media, without regard to the influence it welds over the mindless public, has incited hatred against Michael Vick for his role in a dog-fighting venture since his involvement first became known. As a result of public backlash against the talented quarterback, the judicial system handed him a sentence which is undoubtedly more harsh than those routinely given. Despite the fact that he maintained himself in good condition and served his sentence with dignity, NFL team owners avoided him like the plague because of the venom still evident at the release of his confinement. All of the owners were intent on blacklisting Vick, even the Carolina Panthers who lacked an experience and tested player at this most critical position. At the urging of the then Philadelphia Eagle QB Donovan McNabb, the Eagles eventually signed Vick as a third string backup, behind McNabb and the second stringer Kevin Kolb. Kolb, like the Carolina QBs, had very little playing time under his belt.
When given a chance to play due to an injury to Kolb and McNabb’s earlier departure for the rival Washington Redskins, Michael Vick performed spectacularly in winning games and the starting nod. But as soon as Vick suffered an injury to his ribcage when sandwiched between two defenders on the opponent’s goal line, he was unable to perform in several subsequent games, and the sports media started declaring that a quarterback controversy existed in the City of Brotherly Love. That was so ridiculous, especially after it was evident that, if anything, Vick played smarter and better than he had prior to his incarceration. There was no doubt in my mind that he would be on the field as soon as his injuries healed enough to allow him to do so. Because of Vick’s contributions, the Eagles sit atop of it’s division, a sure bet to make the playoffs, while the Panthers, whose owners got hoodwinked by the media into passing on the chance of a lifetime to acquire one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history, languish in the cellar with their shot at making the playoffs shot.
His exciting play, community service in bringing to the fore the immorality of dog fighting, and dignified composure have drowned out his harshest critics, and the media has suspended its assaults on him, at least for the time being. It was the same sort of demonization that the media used against former Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong, however, in Nifong’s case the criticism has been excessive, pervasive, unrelenting, and downright cruel. This is no doubt due to the influence of Rae Evans, the mother of Duke Lacrosse defendant Dave Evans. Ms. Evans was employed with CBS News as an executive for more than a decade, a fact that CBS has refused to disclose on shows such as “60 Minutes” which featured interviews with her. The media tries to keep the public ignorant of this relationship in an effort to allow the broadcasts about Mike Nifong and the Duke Lacrosse case to appear to be objective and unbiased… which they most certainly aren’t. Mike Nifong, unlike former governor Mike Easley, has never been saddled with a conviction on a felony charge, so the media can’t label Nifong an ex-con like it did with Michael Vick. Instead, the deplorable action taken by the media was to brand Nifong as the “disgraced” former district attorney. The “disgraced” title conferred upon Nifong by the media, especially The News & Observer was a biased bit of editorializing which steered many of the mindless to conclude in their "minds" that Nifong conducted himself in a manner that was disgraceful… and nothing could be further from the truth.
When it comes to reporting on individuals involved in intrigue or controversy, the approach taken by the media lacks conformity. For example, the newspaper article referred to Michael Vick as an “ex-con,” but I doubt that you will ever see that reference in conjunction with an article or broadcast about former governor Mike Easley. And although the deals he made as governor enriched himself and his wife, and would be considered by the reasonable person to be more disgraceful than the criticism leveled at Mike Nifong, it is unlikely that Mike Easley will be referred to in the media as the “disgraced” former NC governor.
The N & O article by staff writer David Ranii begins by describing the contract that the Raleigh communications agency has with Vick as being high-profile and controversial, however he omits stating that it’s lucrative… to the point financial terms were not disclosed. What I find most unbelievable about the article is the contention that Rick French, founder and CEO of French/West/Vaughan had to do some serious soul searching before agreeing accept Vick as a client. I’m sure that the deliberations in his mind could not have lasted more than a fraction of a nanosecond. Why should French be wrestling with whether or not to accept Vick’s money? Believe me, he didn’t. Then the article goes on about how his employees and clients would feel about his representing Vick. Are you kidding? Of course the employees would be thrilled, if for no other reason than that lucrative contracts help ensure employment and keep layoffs at bay.
According to the article, French would not have been willing to represent Michael Vick if he was only interested in hiring a PR firm simply to “window-dress what had transpired.” Well, that is precisely the reason that he hired French’s company. It seems to me that Rick French is more concerned about his image than his client’s. That is undoubtedly the reason he waited until now to announce that Michael Vick was his client. Because Vick’s stock was rising in boardrooms, as was stated in the article, French felt it was safe and timely to reveal that he had signed Vick as a client back in July 2010. Because of Vick’s spectacular play on the gridiron and acceptance by the public in general, French can now use Vick to help promote his PR business, which is the purpose of the article in The News & Observer and his planned public announcement. Now had Vick’s return to the football field been a bust and his detractors vocal and unforgivable, you can bet that French’s relationship with Michael Vick would be, and remain, under wraps.
Bottom line, Michael Vick is doing more in the realm of PR for French/West/Vaughan than is vice-versa.
If French wants to do some significant public relations work, then I would suggest that he approaches Duke University. The university certainly has the funds to be able to afford to retain French’s PR firm. One thing Duke has going for it is the media, which suppresses newsworthy stories that put the institution in a bad light. It’s blatant discrimination against me on April 14, 2010 because I held beliefs that did not conform to their institutional anti-Nifong sentiment was not reported although the media was alerted about it. And the media was instrumental in assisting Duke University in shoveling the appearance of all wrongdoing associated with the Duke Lacrosse case onto its prosecutor, Mike Nifong. The media kept the public in the dark about the surprise blitzkrieg-style razing of the Duke Lacrosse party house until after bulldozers had made considerable progress in bringing it down. So, if Rick French is able to secure a PR position for his firm with Duke University, he can count on unyielding assistance from the media.
Although I give The News & Observer some credit for writing an article about the inherent financial abuse at Duke University recently, it certainly did not go far enough. A December 3, 2010 article by staff writer Eric Ferreri titled “Buddy, can you spare $729,749?,” is misleading and minimizes the extent of legalized corruption at the university. To begin with, the headline, which is below the fold on the front page of the local news section, is vague and gives no hint about the story’s subject matter. The subtitle of the article, “Duke students protest bonuses,” is not quite as ambiguous as the headline but is still without direction. The article gives two examples of executives receiving bonuses… Neal Triplett, president of a management company who received $729,749 and Victor Dzau, chancellor of the Duke health system who received $983,654. Yet, the headline includes the bonus with the smaller dollar amount… minimizing the runaway avarice at Duke by the media. The other option would have been to combine the two bonuses for an amount of $1,713,403.
As is, no doubt the case, the bonuses referenced in the article, are probably on the lower spectrum of bonuses received by executives, bigwigs, and head honchos at Duke University… and there are also many in the upper echelons of the university who have contracts with bonuses that equal to or exceed the bloated salaries that the executives set for themselves to begin with. Duke’s operations are not unlike that of the failed financial institutions, such as AIG, which led the way into the recession in which we are now mired. With Bush-era tax cuts, deregulation of agencies and policies in place to protect against financial abuse, and other measures undertaken to enrich the wealthiest at the expense of the masses, individuals at Duke have made a killing… and continue to do so. The media paid a little lip service to the problem with its article, but it is not committed to helping make a positive change.
Now, I do not know what a chancellor of the Duke health system does, but I do not believe that it is deserving of an annual compensation package worth more than $2.2 million. Even a healthy financial environment does not justify unsightly salaries and bonuses that the head honchos give themselves. However, with the bad economy dropping the value of Duke’s endowment a whopping 24 percent, and as pay for the people who actually do the work at Duke is frozen and jobs are eliminated in order to meet the annual operating budgets, the bonuses of the head honchos at Duke continues to rise at a fevered pitch. People who were forced to accept buyouts or were let go while their positions were then eliminated, not only are more likely to result in a lessening of the quality of services provided, but also contribute to the swelling in the ranks of the unemployed. In addition, generating revenue to help sate the boundless greed of the Duke hierarchy has forced increases in intuition for the school’s students. As Amy Laura Hall, a professor of Christian ethics stated with regards to the bonuses given to top execs when the economy is bad and everyone else is asked to tighten their belts and make sacrifices, “I think that’s obscene.”
Rick, I think that Michael Vick can take care of himself. Now for all of the executives who are receiving obscene bonuses at Duke University amid layoffs, job eliminations, frozen salaries for the actual workers, and increased tuition paid by the students, the same cannot be said. I think that you could probably do a better job of window dressing for the university than its current spokesperson Michael Schoenfeld, who defined handing out a business card as “solicitation” in order to try and defend the premeditated, malicious, and unwarranted discrimination against me earlier this year. And with the media working with you, there should be no concerns about any negative publicity for your company.