The Good Soldier?

Having for some time seen Gen. Stanley McChrystal in TV profiles and read several of his print interviews, it came as somewhat of a shock to read his quotes (and those of his top aides) from the new issue of Rolling Stone. McChrystal’s image has been that of an extremely disciplined leader devoted to serving his country, but somehow the discipline part took a short vacation when Rolling Stone’s Michael Hastings showed up on the scene. Now he’s “The Runaway General,” (the article’s title) and portrayed as an outsider who didn’t mix well with the Obama administration. The civilian press officer responsible for the interview has (not surprisingly) resigned, but what happens to McChrystal when he talks to his boss today? Was his gaffe a true representation of himself, or simply one of the symptoms of “the fog of war”?

–Scott Van Camp

  • Harlan

    Maybe it’s the alignment of the moon and stars, but between General McChrystal, BP CEO Tony Hayward and other prominent newsmakers, PR is being reinvented. But perhaps not in quite the way the founding fathers of PR had in mind.

    Why the epidemic of PR gaffes? This is speculation, but maybe for PR advisors, it’s the fear of confrontation with the big boss. Internal politics. Telling big bosses what they don’t want to hear can impact job security.

  • Krista

    I agree with Harlan– in just about any job setting, bad-mouthing your boss can have serious consequences.

    In response to Scott’s question, I think this instance is one in which perhaps the general’s natural human behavior overpowered his desire to project an image or control a message. He had to have known the consequences for saying what he did, and it was clear in his responses over the last few days that he has made no apology for his words.

  • Terry Welch

    Actually, I think the biggest problem here was that the PR pro who got this article rolling seemed to think he was working publicity for Lady Ga-Ga. PR folks need to get a good grasp on their industry no matter what it is and, as a former military public affairs professional, I can tell you it’s a special kind of work. Interview prep is key, including reminding service members of the exact hurdles over which these guys tripped.