The following excerpt is from pages 251 – 255 of the book “This Town” by Mark Leibovich. Buy the book and read it:

“Eventually Congress and the White House struck a deal and, whaddaya know, the train started moving, too, and I got back to Washington in time to attend a going-away party for Joe Lockhart, Bill Clinton’s White House press secretary during the darkest days of Monica. After leaving the White House, Lockhart joined with two top Gore aides – Mike Feldman and Carter Eskew – to start the Glover Park Group, a Democratic media firm that grew into bipartisan “integrated services” colossus of lobbying and strategic communications that was bringing in $60 million in annual revenue. Lockhart was now heading to a new job as head of corporate communications at Facebook in Menlo Park.”

“The Glover Park Group’s shiny downtowns offices were crawling with the regular send-off. The gathering occurred in the midst of New Corp. phone hacking scandal that was then roiling Great Britain and much of the media. It was a prevailing topic of seemingly every conversation at the party as we munched finger foods and sipped cocktails courtesy of the Glover Park Group, which, by the way, was also a major lobbying and communications provider to News Corp.”

“Not far from the outdoor patio, I struck up a conversation with Geoff Morrell, a former White House correspondent for ABC News who went on to be the chief spokesman for Defense Secretary Robert Gates under President Bush and then Obama. After four years in government, Morrell – one of Mike Allen’s closet friends – was days away from leaving the Pentagon and would soon have several big job offers to consider. Morrell didn’t say what companies he was talking to, but did mention he had retained Bob Barnett [a lawyer of Hillary Clinton’s] to help him navigate the process. No surprise there, and no sooner did Morrell tell me this than Barnett himself walked over to join the conversation. Barnett told me how “premium” a client Morrell was.”

“I later learned Morrell had been offered a leadership role at Hill & Knowlton Strategies, U.S., the public relations colossus run by Dan Bartlett, the former top White House aide to George W. Bush whom Morrell knew from when he covered the White House, as well as one from Tony Podesta, the Democratic mega lobbyist whose firm, the Podesta Group, was having another stellar year despite the lagging economy.”

“On Labor Day, as the national unemployment rate stood at 9.1 percent, Morrell did his part to lower it, and Mike Allen broke the news in Playbook. Geoff had joined BP as its head of U.S. communications. “BP America facing a spate of investigations and lawsuits stemming from the catastrophic Gulf oil spill [that was occurring as the silver platter, black-tie extravaganza known as the White House Correspondent’s Dinner was taking place], has chosen former Pentagon press Secretary Geoff Morrell as its head of U.S. communications,” Allen wrote in his lead item. This signaled “an aggressive new effort to recover from the past communications debacles and improve its image in an essential market.”

“Morrell, who starts Tuesday, will remain in Washington, with frequent travel to BP headquarters in Houston and London….Morrell, forty-two, has worked both sides of the podium: He covered the White House for ABC News, then was Pentagon press secretary throughout the tenure of Defense Secretary Robert Gates, spanning two presidencies and consumed by two wars.”

“The Playbook item went on for 645 words and filled nearly 30 percent of that morning’s edition. “You get more than Obama got for killing Bin Laden,” Tony Podesta marveled to Geoff in a congratulatory e-mail. This is what is known in the political-corporate PR space as “a successful rollout.””

“When someone is leaving a government job to “pursue opportunities in the private sector,” the successful rollout is critical. It is important that a big announcement accompany news of the new position – both as a means of reminding everyone how important you were while in government and to ensure that everyone knows where to find you now that you are out “monetizing government employment.””

“Morrell’s big news illustrated the big tangle of interests that make up the D.C. self-perpetuation machine today: Old Media (ABC News), Republican administrations, Democratic administrations, corporate (BP), and New Media (Playbook) converging at the gold-platted revolving door, facilitated by Barnett.”

“Morrell was recruited into the BP fold in part by his friend Dick Keil, a former White House reporter for Bloomberg who had gone to work for Purple Strategies, the bipartisan media consultancy founded by Republican pundit Alex Castellanos (CNN) and Democratic talking head Steve McMahon (MSNBC). Keil, who had gotten to know Morrell on the White House beat back when Morrell worked for ABC, is a congenial and earnest operator whom I first met years ago when he was still a reporter. Like most people in Washington, Keil is always working. I once ran into him at the market and teased him about the work Purple had been doing to help BP “reposition” its image after its little problem on the Gulf Coast. Without missing a beat, Keil unleashed his own gusher – of flackery – calling BP the “greatest corporate turnaround story in history,” or some such, before moving on to the deli counter. Sure enough, BP was recovering quite well for itself, in part from the generosity of the United States Defense Department. Bloomberg News would later report that BP’s Pentagon contracts more than doubled in the two years after it caused the biggest spill in U.S. history (exploding to $2.51 billion, from $1.04 billion in fiscal 2010).”

“Morrell’s hiring was part of an audacious trend of Obama big-wigs latching like newborns onto the teats of the administration’s biggest nemeses. If BP wasn’t the single biggest corporate villain of the first term, it certainly cracked the top three.”

“Other candidates? Perhaps no company had taken more blame (or revulsion) over the economic mess that the Obama administration inherited in 2009 than Goldman Sachs. They were at the center of the subprime mortgage crisis that started the whole thing. They took bushels of emergency loans from the government and subsequently paid out similarly huge bushels in executive bonuses. So it might look slightly odd, or even unseemly, to have a top Obama Treasury official helping Goldman to de-smudge their corporate image. But a few months later, the Treasury Department counselor, Jake Siewert, announced he was leaving the Obama administration; soon after, he would become the head of global communications for Goldman Sachs. Siewert, who served as White House press secretary at the end of Bill Clinton’s second term, had decamped to Alcoa [as in Obama’s theft of Afghanistan’s minerals by force] for nine years before joining Obama. He was well-known and liked within operative and media circles, and his next trip through the revolving door had been speculated upon within The Club.”

“Mike Allen suggested in Playbook that Siewert could be the next head of the Center for American Progress, a progressive think tank that had been run by John Podesta, the former chief of staff in the Clinton White House and co-chair of the Obama transition team (and Tony Podesta’s brother). Siewert landed at Goldman. “We’re lapsing into self-pardoy,” one senior White House official told me on the subject of high-profile officials leaving the Obama administration and then jumping to the corporate giants the White House had done battle with.”

“To complete the unholy triplet of Siewert going to Goldman and Morrell going to BP, Peter Orszag – the former director of the White House’s Office of Management of the Budget (OMB) – had previously gone to Citigroup, another prime avatar of the financial crisis, beneficiary of a government bailout, and bestower of numerous bonuses.”


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