“This situation [has] got the real smell of death…. we expect that it could become a takeover target.”
BREAKING: CNN reports that “U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder says he has launched a criminal investigation into the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.”
You just can’t make this stuff up. In the dumbest PR move since Tiger Woods (temporarily) hired “Ari Fleischer, the much-maligned former Bush Administration press secretary,” to try to reconstruct his image, “BP has hired a former top aide for Vice President Dick Cheney to be their new spokeswoman,” Think Progress reports.
The reckless oil giant is in big trouble, and deservedly so. The Financial Times reports, “BP’s shares suffered their worst one-day fall for 18 years on Tuesday,” a 13% drop — to a total drop since the disaster of 31%, a loss of nearly $70 billion in market share. At the same time, “Market measures of the risk that BP will default on its debts also rose sharply.”
AFP quotes Dougie Youngson, an oil analyst at Arbuthnot, with this blunt assessment about where BP is now:
“This situation has now gone far beyond concerns of BP’s chief executive Tony Hayward being fired, or shareholder dividend payouts being cut — it’s got the real smell of death. This could break BP,” said Youngson.
“Given the collapse in the share price and the potential for it to fall further, we expect that it could become a takeover target – particularly if its operating position in the US becomes untenable.”
So what does a company that is starting to make Goldman Sachs seem like Ben & Jerry’s do to restore its hemorrhaging image? Why, it hires someone who’s an expert in working with people with single-digit popularity, as TP reports:
Under threat of receivership and criminal investigation for its destruction of the Gulf of Mexico, foreign oil giant BP has hired a former top aide for Vice President Dick Cheney to be their new spokeswoman. Anne Womack-Kolton has been hired to be “head of U.S. media relations.” A rising star in the Bush-Cheney White House since the 2000 campaign, Womack-Kolton served as Cheney’s press secretary during the 2004 election before running public affairs in the Bush Department of Energy:
“Back in 2001-02 Anne Womack-Kolton defended Cheney’s secret energy task force,” Daily Kos contributor RL Miller writes. Cheney’s energy group met with several BP representatives, including a private meeting between Cheney and BP CEO John Browne. In 2007 Browne retired from BP “after lying to a court about his relationship with another man.”
With its stock spiralling, BP hired her away from the Brunswick Group, the international communications and crisis management firm which BP has been paying to “craft its public response to the spill.” Womack-Kolton joined the Brunswick Group in 2007 to manage “high stakes communications surrounding public affairs issues and political risk management for domestic and global corporate clients.”
Memo to disgraced people and companies: Bush and Cheney do not have positive public images, so why would you hire their former PR people?
Doesn’t BP realize that Cheney never actually cared about his public image. Then again, maybe Kolton is a perfect fit for the millionaire who whined “I’d like my life back” and “What the hell did we do to deserve this?”