SBD/July 31, 2014/Franchises

Redskins Hire Burson-Marsteller To Run Website Defending Team's Moniker

The Redskins organization "hired public relations firm Burson-Marsteller as it battles criticism that its name is a racial slur," according to John Clarke of REUTERS. The company "will run the website redskinsfacts.com," which was "launched this month and is billed as a grass-roots effort to defend the team's contentious name" (REUTERS, 7/30). The website is the Redskins' second outside PR effort in defending the team name. In June, the franchise hired a DC political blogger to help with its efforts only to have him resign two weeks later because of "political attacks" (THE DAILY). ESPN's Keith Olbermann noted the Redskins will not confirm that they have "launched the site itself while pretending to everybody this is in fact a grassroots effort to delay the inevitable change of the team's racist nickname." Olbermann noted former clients of Burson-Marsteller include Three Mile Island nuclear reactor facility and Blackwater and added, "While the team continues to pretend that a website spouting all of the official franchise lies about the origin and purpose of the nickname and its impact on Native-Americans, while it continues to pretend that isn't just another Dan Snyder-sponsored PR stunt, they kind of gave it away. You know those screens they now pull down at every sports news conference so the team can advertise itself for its broadcasts or whatever? Look at the new one for the Washington team splattered with the logo of RedskinsFacts.com. Coincidence no doubt" ("Olbermann," ESPN, 7/30).

REVISIONIST HISTORY: In DC, Glenn Kessler examined RedskinsFacts.com and wrote for a website that "claims to be devoted to 'the facts,' the history section leaves out a lot of them, in particular the highly negative connotations ... that the phrase 'redskin' had acquired in the decades before the name was adopted by the football team." Instead, the website "dwells on the pre-19th century usage, and skips over the fact that one of the team’s longtime assertions -- that the name was chosen in honor of the 'Indian' coach -- now appears to be wrong." This is "one of those cases where individual assertions might have a factual basis, but so much information is left out that a false impression is left in the mind of the reader." If you are "going to have a Web site supposedly devoted to the facts, you can’t leave out the inconvenient ones" (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 7/30).
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