Can Rubenstein save Kramer?

In Silicon Valley, there is one must read - it's TechMeme. Gabe Rivera has done a great job at getting the zeitgeist of the Web 2.0 and blogging leaders - and heck, I'm in there, so it's gotta be great.

He always laughs at me, though, because I tell him his more important property is WeSmirch - the gossip blog aggregator. And, let's be honest - in PR and publicity, gossip is what makes the world go round. Heck, the top blogs and TV shows are gossip-based (and I am not talking about the Technorati 100, but those blogs that are read by more people but are not thought of as blogs - like TMZ or Perez Hilton).

Hell, I knew I had made it as a blogger when I was on the same email as Perez, being pitched the Lucky cover with Alexis Bledel, and the chance for 60 entrants to win the DVD of Gilmore Girl's season six. Come on - how cool!

But, if you read WeSmirch, you know that Michael Richards went insane and off on a racial rant at a recent comedy club outing - here's the video from TMZ. He also did the apology - half-assed and odd to me - on David Letterman.

This morning - while unable to sleep - I was watching FOX News and saw ... that Richards has hired Howard Rubenstein. In PR, there are certain rules of engagement. And, one of them is if you are a celebrity, you go get Howard. I have nothing but the utmost respect for Rubenstein, partially because he was so nice when I interviewed him for this blog. He was interviewed early - before the blogging buzz got nuts - but he was gracious and nice.

But, can he save a man that has gone on two racial tirades - one against Blacks, one against Jews - and whose excuse for one is that he was angry, and the other is that he can't be anti-Semitic since he's Jewish (um, hello, ever hear of a self-hating Jew?). Rubenstein is a genius, and he is setting up Richards with meetings with some of the top community members of the African-American community ... but is that the right route? We have seen how Alan Nierob has handled the Mel incident - alcohol, bad rants, etc. But this is very different ... with the wonderful world of online video.

Is the usual dog and pony enough in a wired world? People have already passed judgement, the hecklers claim they are going to sue Michael Richards (but not sure for what), and it is just getting worse and worse with more claims of racism coming forward.

Others would say "launch a blog" and that would usually make me vomit. Everything does not need a blog, and in this situation, I think it would only fan the flames and make it worse. But, there must be some type of strategy that could marry online and traditional PR ... I am just not sure what it may be. Maybe vidcasting ... hello

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  1. No, no, launch a blog Kramer! WeSmirch will love that. The more vomitworthy material, the better!

  2. Come on - a vidcast would work even better!

  3. The vidcast is the way on this. I like it.

  4. No "excuse" will ever suffice to make up for this sour "episode," but I await to discover whether this was something to be understood as typically part of his deepest thoughts or feelings... or whether the answer could be found in more shallow intellectual waters of this individual/performer's mind. I speculate the offerings of his angry tirade were tossed off or "delivered" under a more routine instinctual sense of how he usually responds "on stage," only this time, he reached for some cruel references in his head in frustration. Odd that he seemed to want the audience to actually support his references to these hecklers at one point... it suggests he was reaching for something I've seen black comedians get away with, at least for using the n'word to apply outside of racial exclusivity. (... and did he hear race references towards him first?? I only wonder here.) Comedy clubs are usually pretty wide open, so are some individual's minds, but it always comes down to intent.

    Stopping cold right here, finding these references in your head and using them in anger... maybe that's just too close to the essence of what racism is all about.

    But is he more a racist or is he more just inexplicably ignorant? Certainly there was a total disregard and insensitivity for the reality of his "50 years ago" statement, but a more current reference would be more telling if something was stirring with him on a day to day basis. And in his using the n'word repeatedly, I don't hear the same level of hatred the more he says it. The issue of who can say this "word" anymore has been cast into more doubt in recent years, but aside from the obvious insult (with hate) he intended, did he really see it in the same swipe that more hard core racists apply the term? Is his hate the same?

    Original post:
    Kramer is now Michael Richards>

  5. Can a good PR man save his career?

    Maybe the question is, where was his career before all of this. I haven't heard much about him in quite a while before this episode.

  6. Ain't it just like the PR industry to try and make a buck off of permanently damaged goods. Why not tell Richards to just go away and enjoy whatever money he'll make from syndication?

    This is exactly the kind of profiteering which makes people distrustful of PR. I mean c'mon, here's a guy caught on tape screaming racial slurs at his own paying customers. What successful business or brand wins that way? Who would now *ever* believe Richards doesn't consider African Americans anything but what he let slip on that tape?

    I know you interviewed Howard and but does that mean you shouldn't question his judgement..even just a little?

  7. Joel, doesn't everyone deserve to be represented, if they want to be?

    And, it's not PR - it's publicity.

  8. In that case I'll defer to your distinction of PR vs. Publicity.

    I'd like to believe PR folks should consider the choice to make, but they all have a right to make a living, too--no matter how they want to earn it.