Friday, February 21, 2014
Is keynoter Laura Ingraham ever 'not political'?
Akron General Health System's centennial celebration this week produced, if nothing else, an odd public relations failure with a remarkably poor antidote for whatever ails health care today.
In short, it invited a widely known right-wing TV commentator to be its keynote speaker and paid her well. Yep. Laura Ingraham, she of Fox News and all of the journalistic darkness that such employment portends.
No fool to blow such a festive opportunity, Ingraham struck her sword at Obamacare. According to the Beacon Journal, she asserted: "I would say that Obamacare is the most glaring example of government overreach [read: President Obama] that I've seen probably in my lifetime."
In a city with a long progressive health care tradition, I'd say her invitation was the sort of overreach that served only the partisan speaker and her hosts. There was nothing in her attack mode for the Democratic leaders in the audience or the new health insurance applicants around town. Talk about public relations! (I did today with two former veteran PR guys from the rubber companies. Both said they were astonished by the choice of Ingraham). Is anybody having any fun yet?
The hospital's president and chief executive, Dr. Thomas "Tim" Stover, described Ingraham as "dynamic", but made the situation worse with a strategic retreat by saying:
"It wasn't anything political". Even when you stand at the podium blasting President Obama's calling-card initiative?
It wouldn't have been more political had Ingraham been led to the podium arm-in-arm with Mitch McConnell and John Boehner.
Time for some triage called Damage Control 101.