22 thoughts on “Crisis Communications Case Study

  1. Dennis Lang says:

    Yeah, I got a kick out of this story that led the local section and runs about 1500 words, that really wasn’t even a story. Slow news day I guess. The trials and tribulations of romance in the age of the Internet.

    1. Joe Loveland says:

      Dennis, do you really think it’s not a story?

      My thoughts: Reproductive health clinic violence and violent domestic stalking are real problems, and the presence of a gun make me worry.

      If Hackbarth were a minority young man with his pants hanging low walking around with a gun giving explanations like that, I wonder if there would be no charges.

      1. Dennis Lang says:

        JL–You’re right of course. All that percolating beneath the surface. I guess I was expecting something of a concluding revelation on the part of the author. That it all sort of evaporates in the end with fuzzy gaps in the middle is clearly integral to the story–and your point in the first place.

      2. Joe Loveland says:

        Yeah I agree, it is fuzzy. But defending yourself against accusations of armed clinic stalking by claiming mere armed girlfriend stalking is a mighty weak defense. One seems as bad as the other to me.

  2. john sherman says:

    Given the current state of the Republican party, this is probably his first move to get the nomination for governor in 2012.

  3. Newt says:

    The facts reveals that Hackbarth was stalking his girlfriend and was unwittingly doing so from an abortion clinic’s parking lot.

    1. Joe Loveland says:

      I’m not sure that’s true, Newt. It may be, but the abortion clinic proximity makes me wonder, given the history of his voting record and the overall history of orchestrated clinic intimidation. Hard to tell with the facts at our disposal.

      So for the sake of argument, I’ll take him at his word. Even if this was about the “girlfriend,” should the St. Paul Police really shrug off him stalking a woman with a gun (a woman he’d never even reallyl dated)? Would you shrug that off it that were your daughter or sister?

    2. Dennis Lang says:

      Newt–Hackbarth: “It’s not like I was really jealous, but you know how you meet a person and you really like her, and she’s saying all the right things….” This is great. Newt if you or I tried this excuse for our loaded Smith and Wesson in the abortion clinic parking lot I think we’d be making new friends in the grey-bar hotel.

      1. john sherman says:

        We don’t know what the facts are; all we know is Hackbarth’s explanation, and as Joe points out, saying you’re a potential domestic abuser is only a bit better than saying you’re a political terrorist. The best that can be said for Hackbarth is that he’s packing American; at least, I think S&W is still American made.

      2. Newt says:

        I’m just saying that the abortion clinic’s role in this story is coincidental and irrelevant.

        Hackbarth is a dangerous, creepy dude in his own right.

      3. Dennis Lang says:

        Hey Newt–My point, see above is that there are in fact parking lots actually adjacent to “shops”, and the clinic lot isn’t one of them. In fact a block and a half distant. So, odd. However, with Bloody Mary in hand, off to perform the culinary arts. Happy Thanksgiving to all!

  4. Joe Loveland says:

    Minnpost’s Joe Kimball reports:

    With the Republican take-over of the Legislature, Hackbarth had been named chairman of the House Enironment, Energy and Natural Resources Committee. But now House leaders have suspended Hackbarth from his chairman post until the matter is resolved.

    New House Speaker Kurt Zellers said in statement:

    “Due to an incident on Tuesday, November 16, State Representative Tom Hackbarth has been suspended from any current and pending leadership roles within the House GOP Caucus. The suspension will remain in effect until the issue is fully resolved.

  5. Mike Kennedy says:

    Well, he had a permit to carry the gun — no?

    Did he threaten any person with harm while carrying the gun? Perhaps he was trespassing? That might be the only thing they can charge him with.

    Legally carrying a weapon isn’t grounds for arresting anyone. If he made threats to this woman or was harassing her, he’s got problems. Otherwise, ho hum.

    I was more intrigued on the same page of the paper with the story that community activist nuts are trying to convince a family that the police shot their son who jumped to his death from an overpass running from the cops.

    Two parties I feel sorry for: The family who lost their kid and are being misled by these idiots and the cops who have to put up with it.

    1. john sherman says:

      My late brother-in-law, who was black, died of a stroke in Brooklyn; my sister, Calvin’s son from his first marriage living in NYC, and I’m pretty certain Calvin himself would have preferred a cremation with the ashes scattered on the family farm in North Carolina. However, the family in NC insisted that the body be shipped back to NC for burial. The underlying reason is that if you’re black and from the south, you want to be able to look at the body for gunshot wounds and/or unexplained bruises. Bitter experience has taught minorities that the official reason for a death is not always the actual one.

      You trust the cops’ version of events and you’re okay with the idea that the family shouldn’t get to view the body because it violates some arbitrary protocol. You might not have that view if your life experiences were different.

      1. Mike Kennedy says:

        Well, John, why don’t you read what I wrote and read the story. The idea he was shot did not come from the family. It came from a “community activist” viewing the body, first of all.

        Second of all, did I say the family shouldn’t view the body? If so, please point it out to me. Your point….well has not point.

        Third, an autopsy was done showing no evidence whatsoever of a gunshot.

        Here’s my beef: The family needed only request an autopsy be done. But by idiot activists mentioning or presuming a shooting, it taken away from this as a tragedy and has unnecessarily pitted the family against the authorities.

        It is stupid, idiotic and unnecessary. The brainless activist owes the cops an apology, but I doubt she’ll admit she was wrong.

  6. Joe Loveland says:

    Hackbarth: “I was looking for my girlfriend,” the report quotes Hackbarth as saying. “It was a stupid jealousy thing. I thought she was seeing another guy and I was going to check on her. She was suppose(d) to be at one of the shops over here, so I parked my truck and went to look for her car.”

    Insert the phrase “with a gun” were it fits above. Then, imagine the girlfriend is a woman in your life. Legal issues aside for a moment, is that explanation really okay with you?

    Legally speaking, here is the situation:

    Minn. Stat. ยง 609.749. Stalking; Penalties. (2010)

    Subdivision 1. Definition. As used in this section, “stalking” means to engage in conduct which the actor knows or has reason to know would cause the victim under the circumstances to feel frightened, threatened, oppressed, persecuted, or intimidated;, and causes this reaction on the part of the victim regardless of the relationship between the actor and victim.

    Subdivision 1a. No proof of specific intent required.

    So, do you think she was frightened when she learned a recent acquaintence was following her around with a gun, because he felt jealous?

    1. Dennis Lang says:

      Personally, I’m drawing a blank on the “shops” Hackbarth is alluding to. Correct me if I’m wrong but there are no shops on that side of Ford Parkway. Good call on this story Loveland. (BTW I think some months ago you anticipated the fiasco that became Brett Favre this season. Keep sniffing….)

  7. PM says:

    As an example of bad crisis communications skills, this is a good one.

    On the other hand, the quick response of the House republicans is an example of good crisis communication skills. A temporary suspension until “we know the facts” sort of works all around, and innoculates them nicely. If it all dies down (as it probably will), then they can decide what to do about Hackbarth. If not, they can cut him loose.

    I’ve met Kurt Zellers a couple of times, and he impresses me as a smart guy–reasonable as well. Not an ideologue.

    1. Joe Loveland says:

      Very good point. It would have been very easy to poo-poo this because there were no charges filed. With it looking like all the facts aren’t yet available, they neither condemned him or defended him. Swift and even-handed reputation management that gives them maximum flexibility for the point down the line when more facts are available.

  8. john sherman says:

    Mike, I read the story and I read what you said, and what you’re doing is known technically as begging the question. Your argument makes sense only if the cops are telling the truth, and since the family is asking for an independent autopsy, it appears they don’t necessarily believe it. It may be things went down exactly as the cops said, but the family certainly has the right to check the story. It’s not like even in MInnesota the cops have an unblemished record particularly when dealing with minorities.

  9. Mike Kennedy says:

    No, my argument is that the family could have simply asked for an independent autopsy first. Then, if the results were suspicious, they could have raised questions and leveled charges based on something.

    What appears to have happened is this idiot activist mistook a puncture from a broken bone as a “gunshot” wound.

    My point is that, as my grandpa used to say, they put the cart before the horse.

  10. Joe Loveland says:

    The latest from KSTP-TV and AP:

    Prosecutors to review armed lawmaker’s case

    Associated Press – December 2, 2010 11:04 AM ET

    ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – St. Paul police say they’ve turned over the case involving an armed state legislator to the city attorney’s office for review.

    Police spokesman Andy Skoogman tells KSTP-TV investigators contacted state Rep. Tom Hackbarth about inconsistencies in the story he gave officers the night his gun was seized in the parking lot of a Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Paul. A security guard called police after spotting Hackbarth’s firearm.

    Hackbarth of Cedar wasn’t arrested in the incident about two weeks ago.

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