Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Politics of Pierogis

I read yesterday about a running Pierogi working for the Pittsburgh Pirates who got fired for writing on Facebook
Coonelly extended the contracts of Russell and Huntington through the 2011 season. That means a 19-straight losing streak. Way to go Pirates.
With the three named people being the president, GM, and manager of the Pirates, respectively. 

Now, maybe this Pierogi's Facebook page makes direct references to his employment as a fifth-inning sideshow, and his hundred or so friends soak up every word he writes.  I don't know.  But the whole thing was pretty tame and I seriously doubt anyone knew about it beyond his direct friends.  So why bother about it?  This is hardly McChrystal dissing his civilian leaders.

And of course, they've now rehired him.  According to the official response, it was because they fired him in the wrong way.  And that's entirely possible.  At a guess, I'd say it was because they didn't give him a warning first, making him eligible for unemployment benefits, or some other form of severance.

How to Handle the Media

But another reason may have been the bad press they got for firing him.  Not that I think people were up in arms about a Pierogi biting the dust.  But merely because it's funny.  I mean, they fired a Pierogi for speaking its mind.  The media loves that sort of thing. 

And that's where the real blunder lies.  Because, at best, maybe a hundred people read his initial diss; and it was probably far less than that.  But after they fired him, it became a national story.  I mean, I didn't even know the Pirates sucked until I heard that they fired a Pierogi for saying they did.  And so any damage he may have done was made infinitely worse by firing him.  If letting people know that the Pirates suck is a fireable offense, whoever fired him deserves to be fired a hundred times over.

And no, I'm not turning this into a sports blog.  This has all kinds of lessons on politics and how to manage the media.  Obama knew this, which is why it must have been such a hard decision on what to do with McChrystal.  But McChrystal was a huge story that would have gotten bigger if it hadn't been dealt with.  The Pierogi was the exact opposite: Direct action in combating their critics only made things worse.

And that's how it is in life.  There are no obvious answers when dealing with the media and political situations.  Sometimes, you've got to stick with your guns when you're under fire, and other times, you need to apologize for apologizing and not unapologize for it.  It all depends on the situation and the people who tell you otherwise are hardcore ideologues who simply can't accept the fact that not everyone agrees with them.  But as we saw in Pittsburgh, sometimes you have to ignore the Pierogi, even if it hurts.

DISCLAIMER: I have no idea what a pierogi is.

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