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Andy Rooney  On Ethics and PR


Well, it's always a temptation there, there are a lot of opportunities to cheat on things and we don't do it. We have hedged a couple of times, 'cause we assume that people understand what I'm doing, I am not the White House correspondent. But there are problems we run into, legal problems too, we run into all the time. But we come up against some ethical problems, how to say it, or whether to say it, whether what we are saying is accurate and ethical. People don't sue us very often. We have been sued a few times. And just for that reason, companies are reluctant to sue because they're only gonna come out of it bad. If I say something about Maxwell House coffee reducing the amount of grounds in their tin, in a pound to twelve and a half or eleven and point five ounces or something like that, and if I say something in the course of that, that is inaccurate or wrong, even though it is a fact that they have reduced the number of ounces in their pound of coffee, um, I have to be very careful that we don't get sued for some other element of that piece. On the other hand, it is highly unlikely that one of these companies would sue because it would be so bad for them, the rest of the information that would come out, and of course the lawsuit would be so damaging to them that they are not apt to sue. But this puts an obligation on us to be accurate, and to be fair to them, too, in the first place.


Oh, Jesus! [snorts in frustrated cynicism] I mean, they're such idiots, I mean, really, the public relations business oughta grow up. I see some good public relations people, there are some good ones. And the good ones are all the same! You can call a good public relations person, and ask him or her the most embarrassing questions about the company, and you will get an honest answer. Whether you would think it's good or bad for the company. It always ends up being better for the company if the public relations person is just honest about it, good or bad for the company. It ends up in the long run being better for the company. You see so much, so many of these people blowing smoke, refusing to answer questions, and it's impossible for a bad company to hide behind good public relations. But we get so much junk sent us! I mean, companies are spending so much money trying to attract my eye! I mean, I am, I am, I am just so angry to think that somebody would spend $190 sending me fourteen balloons, thinking that I would show their balloons with the product name on 60 Minutes! I mean, really, thousands of examples just like that. We get boxes of junk in here that you wouldn't believe. Very cleverly assembled and everything. Absolutely just goes into the wastebasket within ten seconds! Thousands of dollars worth of wasted time on the part of silly public relations people. The world would be better off without public relations.

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