When it wasn’t getting pimped out on Twitter, there were enticing hints coming from the wapo. There was a “genuine scoop” coming regarding the Occupy Wall Street movement, to be delivered by one Chris Hayes on his MSNBC show, Up with Chris this morning. Given his unwavering support for the occupiers, I assumed it had to be good news for the rebellion in their fight against the Evil Empire of Wall Street’s storm troopers. In fact, after teasing it several times, Hayes described it as, “My Up exclusive on a secret plan to attack Occupy Wall Street!”
I was giddy with anticipation.
But a good scoop never holds for too long, and the Huffpo spilled the beans before the show came on the air.
WASHINGTON — A lobbying firm has prepared a memo offering advice to its Wall Street clients to help them manage any political fallout from Occupy Wall Street, warning that Republicans may turn on big banks, at least in public, altering the political ground for years to come. It is one of the first clear signs that the movement may be starting to trouble the moneyed elite.
The memo, first reported by MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, host of the show “Up with Chris Hayes,” was written by the firm Clark, Lytle, Geduldig, Cranford and addressed to one of its Wall Street clients. It runs four pages long and is set to be sent on Thanksgiving.
They unleashed the first two paragraphs of the memo. They are included here, but will probably raise more questions about the handling and timing of this “scoop” than the content itself.
Leading Democratic party strategists have begun to openly discuss the benefits of embracing the growing and increasingly organized Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement to prevent Republican gains in Congress and the White House next year. We have seen this process of adopting extreme positions and movements to increase base voter turnout, including in the 2005-2006 immigration debate. This would mean more than just short-term discomfort for Wall Street firms. If vilifying the leading companies of this sector is allowed to become an unchallenged centerpiece of a coordinated Democratic campaign, it has the potential to have very long-lasting political, policy and financial impacts on the companies in the center of the bullseye.
It shouldn’t be surprising that the Democratic party or even President Obama’s re-election team would campaign against Wall Street in this cycle. However the bigger concern should be that Republicans will no longer defend Wall Street companies — and might start running against them too.
I’m not sure what sort of blockbuster announcement I was expecting, but this certainly wasn’t it. It might have been more spectacular if this had been a missive from an actual Wall Street firm, bank, etc. saying something to the effect of, “Oh no! These protesters have exposed all of our evil plans and we’re going to be destroyed!” Even more to the point, if it had been an e-mail from some member(s) of Congress indicating collusion against the protesters – or anything similar to that – this would absolutely be some breaking news.
But given that it came from a long established, K-street lobby shop, the only thing being revealed here is the remarkable, groundbreaking news that successful lobbyists tend to be aggressive, proactive marketers of their services. The memo is in the finest tradition of Always Be Closing. In the world of lobbyists, the only thing better than finding a customer with a genuine crisis to be solved is inventing a crisis for them to worry about, thus requiring your expensive services. This one was targeted for The American Bankers Association. It proposed doing opposition research on OWS movement leaders and pushing a media campaign to portray them in a negative light, while attacking Democrats who have already lent their support to the protesters.
Also, the association in question responded to MSNBC saying they had received the memo, it was unsolicited and they chose not to act on it.
This is news?
I can pretty much imagine the pitch already. “Say… those protesters are certainly grabbing a lot of headlines, aren’t they? You know, some of the Republicans might start turning against you if this keeps up and things could go badly for you in the next round of regulatory negotiations. Seems like you could use somebody to go calm them down and keep them on your side…”
Brilliant, really. But hardly a sign of some sea change in either the private sector or on The Hill.
The final question I had, though, was more related to the timing of this “scoop” being released. What if it had been something significant, rather than just a K-Street marketing pitch? Hayes was flogging this on Twitter as early as Friday morning, so how long had he had the memo in his possession? 24 hours before that? 48? News coverage doesn’t simply inform the public in a situation like this… it can also affect conditions on the ground. What if this news carried some real significance which might have altered peoples views on it? (Both the protesters and the police.)
Might getting some news out early have stopped some of the attacks on police in New York? Could it have avoided the latest rape in St. Louis? Wouldn’t you want to get that news right out to the public as soon as possible given the fast moving nature of these protests? Why would you sit on it for several days if you’d already confirmed that it was authentic?
Or was it less news than something to gin up some buzz to attract ratings for a relatively new show? Either way, this breaking story was less rock star and more air guitar.