Blog — The Snow Report

Last week, a video surfaced of Congressman Patrick Duffy making some ill-advised comments about his $174,000 salary and his “struggles” to pay the bills. During the meeting, a member of the audience asked Duffy what he was paid, and whether Duffy would be willing to take a pay cut. Duffy’s response has received a fair bit of criticism online and, of course, by the opposition party:

After acknowledging his $174,000 annual salary, Duffy went on to say,

“I can guarantee you, or most of you, I guarantee that I have more debt than all of you. With 6 kids, I still pay off my student loans. I still pay my mortgage. I drive a used minivan. If you think I’m living high on the hog, I’ve got one paycheck. So I struggle to meet my bills right now. Would it be easier for me if I get more paychecks? Maybe, but at this point I’m not living high on the hog.”

According to Census data, $174,000 is three times the median salary in Polk County, Wisconsin, which the Congressman represents. You can see why this comment is causing a bit of controversy and finger-wagging.

Unfortunately, the Polk County Republican Party came to the conclusion that it would be best for the video to just disappear from the Internet (not exactly an easy task). It began by removing the video from its own blog page and YouTube channel. Then it upped the ante by serving a takedown notice to the website TalkingPointsMemo, which was also hosting the video.

Two reasons this is bad strategy:
a) It’s ineffective. A quick YouTube search now brings up multiple copies of the video. See the Streisand Effect.
b) It’s bad PR. What was a one-day story has turned into a multi-day story. What was seen by a localized group of people is now being seen by a much more widespread audience. Attempts to scrub the Internet and liberal-leaning news websites only send the message that you’ve got something to hide. This in turn generates more interest in the original story, more media scrutiny, and more viral distribution of the remarks.

The Congressman probably wishes he could take back his original comments. But the best strategy now would be to clarify his remarks to the best of his ability, forget about trying to make the video disappear, and move on.

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