Gentlemen and Ladies, This just hit minutes ago. Panic and chaos are taking place at ATF headquarters in advance of the anticipated media releases today and tomorrow. Below is a message just sent from the subordinate of Jim McDermond from the ATF Office of Public and Governmental Affairs. An emergency request is being issued to all ATF Public Information Officers to find ATF stories with a positive spin to counter-influence was is expected today. Very insulting and very much the character of ATF management. Please respond to me that you received this. I think it will be critical to your stories and for Senator Grassley to further see demonstrated ATF’s continued desire to spin and cover up.
Lord knows how McDermond's going to spin this tomorrow. Here's the ATF Spin Doctor's incantation --
Public Information Officers:
Please make every effort for the next two weeks to maximize coverage of ATF operations/enforcement actions/arrests at the local and regional level. Given the negative coverage by CBS Evening News last week and upcoming events this week, the bureau should look for every opportunity to push coverage of good stories. Fortunately, the CBS story has not sparked any follow up coverage by mainstream media and seems to have fizzled.
It was shoddy reporting, as CBS failed to air on-the-record interviews by former ATF officials and HQ statements for attribution that expressed opposing views and explained the law and difficulties of firearm trafficking investigations. The CBS producer for the story made only a feigned effort at the 11th hour to reach ATF HQ for comment.
This week (To 3/1/2011), Attorney General Holder testifies on the Hill and likely will get questions about the allegations in the story. Also (The 3/3/2011), Mexico President Calderon will visit the White House and likely will testify on the Hill. He will probably draw attention to the lack of political support for demand letter 3 and Project Gunrunner.
ATF needs to proactively push positive stories this week, in an effort to preempt some negative reporting, or at minimum, lessen the coverage of such stories in the news cycle by replacing them with good stories about ATF. The more time we spend highlighting the great work of the agents through press releases and various media outreaches in the coming days and weeks, the better off we will be.
Thanks for your cooperation in this matter. If you have any significant operations that should get national media coverage, please reach out to the Public Affairs Division for support, coordination and clearance.
Scot L. Thomasson
Chief, ATF Public Affairs Division