What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Big Pink Inc., still smarting from that unfortunate Planned Parenthood rock-turning incident that exposed the wingnut creepy-crawlies running the joint, the inflated executive salaries, the breathtakingly large portion of donations funneled toward corporate whoring, etc., has hired Mark Penn’s flak organization to gauge PR fallout and presumably craft a communications strategy to repair the damage. Here’s a sample survey question statement to rate for accuracy from the survey:*

Penn, as you may recall, was the genius behind the twin ”caucuses, what caucuses?” and “hard-working white Americans” strategies in the Hillary Clinton 2008 campaign that nearly destroyed the Clinton brand and almost certainly cost the current Secretary of State the nomination while leaving her campaign on the hook for millions of dollars. Penn has since gone on to be wrong about just about everything else, making a serious play for Bill Kristol’s all-time wrong record. So he’ll no doubt be a terrific asset to the Komen peeps.

[X-POSTED at Rumproast; H/T: Rumproast commenter MikeJ]

*Edited for clarity since it’s a statement rather than a question, as pointed out in comments.

50 replies
  1. 1
    c u n d gulag says:




    Ari Fleischer recommended him?

    Why not just take that pink gun, put in a pink bullet, stick the pink gun past your pink gums, and pull the pink trigger.


  2. 2
    Zandar says:

    Mark Penn is a brilliant choice. Simply do the exact and complete opposite of what he recommends.

  3. 3

    There’s a Nelson Muntz holding on line 1…

  4. 4
    jon says:

    Nothing says Sincerity like a series of apology trial balloons.

  5. 5
    CarolDuhart2 says:

    Maybe he was the only one who wanted the job, and they were desperate enough to take him. In any case, I think they deserve each other.

    Maybe Planned Parenthood can take over the :”pink” thing.

  6. 6
    Mino says:

    Maybe they wanted to molify up the left by hiring a Dem. But they chose a DLC dick. A stupid one, too.

  7. 7
    Donut says:

    @Ben Cisco:

    You took the “ha-ha!” right outta my mouth.

  8. 8
    MattF says:

    Wasted money. SGK needs to get out of the conference room, ditch the Power Point presentations and do visible Good Works for a few years. This sort of response to doing bad things is actually not wholly unheard of, your handy thesaurus offers words like ‘penance’, ‘regret’, and ‘making amends.’ The fact that this isn’t obvious to them is the actual bad news here.

  9. 9
    Cheap Jim says:

    @MattF: Before penance come contrition. They don’t believe they have done anything actually wrong, just impolitic and possibly unpopular.

  10. 10
    Frank says:

    So I wonder;

    When SGK holds walks for the cure of breast cancer, is part of the money that the walkers etc give to SGK going to this consulting firm instead of breast cancer research?

    I realize they have G&A expenses like any non-profit, but I assume this will now be even higher G&A expenses that is not going to the advertised cause.

  11. 11

    I sometimes wonder if honestly feeling that you are more righteous than God impairs your thinking and problem-solving abilities. There have been several politicians who did sort of okay until they let loose their self-righteousness. This is the entire upper tier management of a whole organization doing the same thing.

    Interesting to watch, in a train wreck sort of way.

  12. 12
    Violet says:

    Someone suggested, as a joke, that SGK should hire Penn to repair their reputation. And damn if they didn’t take it seriously. Wingnuts never fail to surprise.

  13. 13
    Hewer of Wood, Drawer of Water says:

    From the survey: “We have made mistakes, but political elements on both the left and right have sought to use our missteps to advance their political agendas.” – Classic “Both sides do it”

    OT, Music from Big Pink is one of the greatest albums ever -it made me cringe to see “Big Pink Inc” in Betty’s post

  14. 14
    Anya says:

    Wait! That’s real, and not a push poll commissioned by Komen’s opponents?

  15. 15
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Hewer of Wood, Drawer of Water: Never heard of that album, but that is high praise indeed. I’ll have to check it out.

  16. 16
    Hewer of Wood, Drawer of Water says:

    @Betty Cracker: The Band’s first album – named after the house they lived in in Woodstock

  17. 17
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Hewer of Wood, Drawer of Water: I must’ve heard it somewhere down the line then, as I was raised in part by nomadic hippies.

  18. 18
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @Hewer of Wood, Drawer of Water: Indeed, one of the all-time classics.

  19. 19
    flukebucket says:

    Is that sample survey question a question that is supposed to have a true or false answer? How could anybody think that was false?

  20. 20
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    Hopefully Penn puts everything he put into the Hillary campaign into this project, and then some.

    May it be just as successful too. Also.

    Ubetcha. :)

  21. 21
    daveNYC says:

    That’s a sample question? Don’t those usually come with question marks at the end of them?

  22. 22
    Soonergrunt says:

    @Anya: It’s a statement that is supposed to be rated for its believability.

  23. 23
    Tone In DC says:

    That he can get hired AT ALL by ANYONE after Hillacious’ campaign in ’08 says way too much about this town.

    They could have done better by just hiring some one person PR firm working out of a townhouse basement in Foggy Bottom. Craigslist has to be full of listings like this.

  24. 24
    David Fud says:

    @flukebucket: Ding ding ding ding! That is the crappiest poll ever if that is the “question”. Komen is hiring someone to push poll against it if that is the case.

  25. 25
    Steve says:

    The image you’ve posted here isn’t even a question. I had to click through to understand the context, because it made no sense at all to me.

  26. 26
    Anya says:

    @Soonergrunt: I guess they want know how badly their reputation was ruined, but I still think they’re risk with that kind of a question.

  27. 27
    JGabriel says:

    The survey question pictured above is almost exactly how I perceive SGK now. Hell, it’s how I’ve described SGK in the comment threads at various media outlets. I can’t fault Penn for asking people if they agree or not with that statement. It seems like the kind of information the Komen foundation needs in order to determine the viability of their brand going forward.

    So, yes, Penn is a self-inflated dick with a shoddy record, but this isn’t evidence for it.

    It’s just funny on its own.


  28. 28
    Waldo says:

    … still smarting from that unfortunate Planned Parenthood rock-turning incident that exposed the wingnut creepy-crawlies running the joint …

    Best summary of the whole episode I’ve seen anywhere. You can almost smell the infestation.

  29. 29
    JGabriel says:


    When SGK holds walks for the cure of breast cancer, is part of the money that the walkers etc give to SGK going to this consulting firm instead of breast cancer research?

    Yes. It sure as hell ain’t coming out of Nancy Brinker’s personal bank account or divorce settlement.


  30. 30
    GregB says:

    Was Bob Shrum not available?

  31. 31
    Sebastian Dangerfield says:


    Penn is a self-inflated dick with a shoddy record, but this [survey question] isn’t evidence for it.

    Oh, but other parts of the survey certainly are. Witness, for instance, their list of potential new SGK spokesmodels, which participants were asked to rate in terms of credibility:

    Tom Daschle, former Senate Majority Leader
    Breast Cancer Survivor
    Sheryl Crow
    A member of Congress
    Suzanne Somers
    Christina Applegate
    Former President Bill Clinton
    Ellen DeGeneres
    People who participate in Susan G Komen for the Cure walks or races
    Giuliana Rancic
    Rudy Giuliani, former Mayor of New York City
    Nancy Brinker, Susan G Komen for the Cure CEO
    Melissa Etheridge
    Dorothy Hamill
    Eric P Winer, MD, Director of Breast Oncology Center, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
    Sandra Day O’Connor, former Supreme Court Justice
    Former President George H W Bush
    Neil Patrick Harris
    Lance Armstrong

    These names appear to have been derived from some drunken word-association exercise (Giuliana Rancic, followed by Rudy Giuliani??!!). I’m disappointed that somehow Patrick Swayze and Patrick Stewart did not make the list.

    They are also road-testing various approaches to apologizing, ranging from “we’re the victims of political agendas from both sides” to almost contrition, a sure sign of sincerity.

  32. 32
    chrome agnomen says:

    @Betty Cracker:

    egad! hak-kaff! you are a young’un!

  33. 33
    gwangungcommentGwangung says:

    Hrm. Actually that list seems pretty standard, too. You want responses that draw all sorts of reactions; there are various good methodological reasons to do so.

  34. 34
    Teresa says:

    *facepalm* Penn? Man Oh Pete executives constantly recycle crap.

  35. 35
    kindness says:

    Jesus between Komen paying Ari Fleisher and now Penn for their ‘opinions’ and ‘expertise’ it’s a wonder they stay in business at all.

    Alas, they will have to make due without my help from now on. No more pink ribbons nor Komen sponsored Cancer walks for me. I give to the American Cancer Society now.

  36. 36
    harlana says:

    pretty sure the banks are trying to do something similar, they’re just not being particularly transparent about it (which, of course, is the objective).

    i’m thinking of the “tell banks how you feel” webpage, with all the heartbreaking, individual stories in the comments, but it’s a cynical data-gathering operation for future PR purposes. the page has no “About Us” or any source information which immediately raises a red flag for me.

    i commented there only once, pleading with other commenters: do not help these people out by sharing any information of any kind, even if it’s just venting! there are other, more trustworthy sites for that that. you are only HELPING them (by assisting their PR research department) by contributing to this page with your comments.

    actually, i think folks should just ignore such surveys and make them flounder due to their ignorance about public opinion.


  37. 37
    maus says:

    So Komen’s going blame it on “the race card” and try to push towards war in Iran? Thanks Nancy!

  38. 38
    techno says:


    Nothing says Sincerity like a series of apology trial balloons.

    For some reason, this just cracked me up! Thank you!

  39. 39
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Soonergrunt: Exactly. Careless wording on my part. Like others, I’m wondering if it was wise for them to lay out the case against the organization in such stark terms, though. It certainly rang true for me, but I already knew that about SGK. It might cause those who weren’t paying much attention to dig a little deeper.

  40. 40
    Uncle Cosmo says:

    @flukebucket: PolitiFuct would rate it as “Somewhatsortakindainsometinyway False”. Anyone else with an IQ higher than pwned scum? Heh.

  41. 41
    harlana says:

    do not answer the survey. GIVE THEM NOTHING, NOTHING TO WORK WITH, i say.

  42. 42
    Persia says:

    @Sebastian Dangerfield: Lance Armstrong. Gives new meaning to that “women have balls, they’re just higher up” line.

  43. 43
    Luzeelu says:

    Very funny.

    For the past 8 or so years, I’ve helped out with a local race which is sponsored by a sorority and was held to benefit both SGK and our local university’s breast cancer center. This year, of course, I told them I could not be a part of it if SGK was involved, but would be happy to continue if the proceeds went solely to the university. Apparently there was a big sponsor who also was reluctant to continue. The sorority went to SGK and asked them to discontinue their involvement. I guess SGK agreed to that because their name is no longer on the promotional materials. And now I’ll help out again.

    Blind ideology has consequences…

  44. 44
    Maus says:

    @harlana: Yeah, I’d feel worse about heckling them on Facebook if I wasn’t entirely sure they give no fuck what the rabble says. They’re completely tone-deaf to what your average former supporter* might think.

    *Granted, I never bought into Pinkwashing but I’d be the demographic they would theoretically want to reach, if they didn’t just care about beltway parties and socialites.

  45. 45
    Billy Beane says:

    This wrong again dude sounds like Coles kinda guy.

  46. 46
    Mike G says:


    SGK needs to get out of the conference room, ditch the Power Point presentations and do visible Good Works for a few years.

    Bushbots don’t do humility and good works. Like their brand of Repuke Xtianity, it’s all about the arrogance, “We’re so good, look at how GOOD we are just because we BELIEVE certain things; you must acknowledge our Goodness regardless of any deeds we may or may not perform. Our critics are Evil.”

    It’s still run by a Bush-bot, who hired Ari Bushbot to find her a Bushbot hack Director of Public Policy. The Director is gone but the Bushbot stench remains.

  47. 47

    @c u n d gulag: Man, that was the first thing I thought of – sleazy Ari Fleischer and sleazy Mark Penn working for the same sleazy nonprofit, a kind of harmonic cacophonic convergence of sleaze.

  48. 48
    PTirebiter says:

    @Hewer of Wood, Drawer of Water:
    and let’s not forget Bob Dylan, the house’s owner and early benefactor of The Band. Dear Landlord indeed.

  49. 49
    Hewer of Wood, Drawer of Water says:

    @PTirebiter: Yeah that relationship paid off pretty well for everybody.

    My father-in-law is a huge Dylan fan – he still harbours some resentment towards The Band for helping Dylan go electric

  50. 50
    ReflectedSky says:

    That strikes me as the first example of competent public relations I’ve ever seen out of Mark Penn (or more likely, one of his underlings).

    I work in PR. I have had both start-ups and big corporate clients where the CEO (or whoever is overseeing the PR campaign) is an idiot too filled with self-regard. That statement could be there precisely because if it scores highly, Penn’s team can then propose a massive (and expensive) damage control/rebranding campaign. That ridiculous list of spokespeople could be a combination of valid options and crazy suggestions from the client. When you’ve got a crazy client, trying to move them towards a fact-based approach that can deliver results is a torturous process. You have to incorporate their ideas even as you try to move them towards something not crazy.

    Penn’s just the rainmaker, most likely. He’s the guy she’s met at cocktail parties who she was comfortable calling. And realistically, he’s as far left as Komen could probably make itself go (any further, and you’re dealing with SOCIALISTS). This suggests that Komen knows there’s a problem, and is willing to purchase a very expensive band-aid to fix it. When blood continues to gush out from under the sides of the band-aid, it will be interesting to see if they make any real change. My guess: no.

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