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Is Obama White House failing crisis management test?

 

Editor's note: The following excerpts are from a discussion about the IRS scandal anchored by FNC's Jonathan Hunt with Fox News contributor and former White House Special Counsel Lanny Davis. The interview ran on May 20 on FoxNews.com Live:

“I would think that a White House counsel would give a heads up to the president, to the chief of staff, to the press secretary, to those three people, to at least prepare for a crisis management plan, a media plan, Q & As just to get it ready so that they can be out in front as soon as the news hit. 

That’s what I would have recommended and I was surprised when I heard the president say that he hadn’t been given any knowledge or heads up. 

HUNT: So was the president failed by his White House Counsel?

“It is a failure of crisis management, it is not a moral failure or even a political failure, but the crisis management technique here is to be ready so that he can be out front first when the news hits. It took him about 48 hours to really get out and express the outrage that he did so effectively and I would have had him right at the first minute of the news story if [White House Counsel] Ms. Ruemmler had informed him they would have been all ready with a crisis plan, which is both political and media messages so that they are ready right as the news hits.

...

Good crisis management serves the president well by getting out in front of these stories even if they are not hurting him politically. 

In the case of the White House Counsel  I have nothing but the highest respect for her legal abilities, I am merely and respectfully suggesting that that job requires somebody who is media sensitive and politically sensitive as well as legal skills. 

And I am respectfully suggesting that if she did know about this investigation, even without knowing any conclusions, that she has a direct line to the president -- it is one of the most senior positions in the White House. She should have given him a heads up and gone to [White House Press Secretary] Jay Carney and said, 'let’s do a crisis management plan so as soon this IG report is public we’ll be first and have the president get out in front.'"

Lanny Davis, a Washington attorney and principal in the firm of Lanny J. Davis & Associates, specializing in legal crisis management and dispute resolution, served as President Clinton’s special counsel from 1996-98 and as a member of President Bush’s Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board from 2006-07. He currently serves as special counsel to Dilworth Paxson and is the author of the new book, "Crisis Tales: Five Rules for Coping With Crises in Business, Politics, and Life," (Simon & Schuster March 2013). Follow him on Twitter at @LannyDavis.