How Not to Manage the Press

The White House press conference today should be required reading among all crisis management consultants working with companies. Far from being an exemplar, it was instead among the worst-managed such things I have ever seen. Spokesperson Scott McClellan was fumbling and uncertain, and while it almost certainly wasn’t his fault, the press pounced on his unwillingness to answer simple questions.

Without taking a partisan tack, it is an interesting example of how violating Carville’s Rule of Scandals — tell it early, tell it all, tell it yourself — can turn even the most insignificant issue into a debacle. The current president is in good company in struggling to manage the media, and alongside him is a laundry list of ballooned business scandals, from the major, like Tyco, to the minor, like Martha Stewart.