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August 8, 2011
'Standing? Standing? Who's Got Our Standing?'
Talk about an epic public relations crisis! Congress and the Obama administration don't seem to understand that's what they set themselves up for in haggling so bitterly over the nation's debt ceiling. Now Treasury Secretary Geithner is attacking the firm that called them on it — Standard & Poor's.

S&P made a "$2 trillion error" in the process of evaluating the nation's debt situation, Secretary Geithner said in a TV interview, as though the budget impasse was about whose math was better, instead of whose sense of accountability to the public and effective resolution of national priorities is really the issue.

“Secretary Geithner in his words last night from our perspective made two important comments, in addition to his criticism of our rating action,” said David Beers, head of S&P's sovereign ratings unit in response. “He acknowledged the damage that was done to the U.S. reputation because of the controversy over the debt ceiling and the fact that it took until last Tuesday to get agreement” and “he also acknowledged that the underlying public finances of the U.S. government are on an unsustainable path.” Hear! Hear! What PR text somewhere in the pile warned about "shooting the messenger" as a faulty tactic?

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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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