It’s good to be the Lyin King’s Boss

One of the big benefits of either being privately held or a huge public ikdkdk corporation is that you don’t have to tell anyone in the media the truth. There really is no penalty for lying about your finances if your aren’t public and if you are big and public you can often bury loses that other companies would have to report.

Case in point. The CEO of Clear Channel, Pittman, finally spoke to the AP yesterday and said 58 advertisers leaving the Rush Limbaugh show didn’t have a major impact on Clear Channel. Full quote here.

According to my friends at Media Matters 58 advertisers left.

Now in the world of small to mid-sized public companies that would be what is called, “A material event” and could tank the stock. Earnings this
quarter could disappoint investors and management,who promised certain numbers, would have to do something to make changes.

If you are privately held, or huge, like NewsCorp, after losing 58 or 81 Advertisers you can say things like “advertisers leaving the program did not have a major impact on the company ” and get away with it.

Now I’m sure that the AP Business writer is very skilled at interviewing CEOs. He probably knows that he is full of crap so he puts the quote in there directly. He then later states the 58 number of advertisers leaving just to show how absurd the CEO’s remark is. This is his “he said she said.” part of the story.

Only whereas Media Matters has hard proof that 58 advertisers have left, the CEO of Clear Channel doesn’t have to prove that this didn’t have a major impact on his company. The AP writer knows that if he asked, “Just how bad was this impact? What was your revenue shortfall this quarter vs last year? What would it take to have a MAJOR impact on your company? Losing 80? 90? Are you going to ask Rush for some of his salary back? Who will lose their year end bonus or job because of this revenue shortfall. The CEO would say, ‘I don’t have to tell you anything. We are a closely held private company. Now lets talk about how Rush Limbaugh is the King of radio.”

Using a fuzzy word is the kind of thing that I would counsel a client that thinks that he has to answer a hard numbers question from a reporter. They as tech guys and engineers often think, ‘Hey, they are asking me a question, I should tell them an answer. I don’t want to lie.” I tell them, ‘You aren’t under oath. You have no obligation to tell them specifics at this point in your development. Give him a general idea of your growth and move on.”

It’s like losing both of your legs and one arm in a car accident and saying, “I’m not dead!” Sure you aren’t dead but this hurt you, bad.”

The PR apparatus that is paid to prop Rush up is doing its job. They are eager to show that this didn’t even muss Rush’s hair. Of course the MSM is going to take their word
For it, especially since the businesses have set up their empires in such a way that they don’t have to tell the press the truth.

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