Rick Scott is still the least popular governor in the country.
Earlier this year, Scott's handlers - sensing perhaps their man was only slightly more popular than head lice or hemorrhoids - started re-making his image.
And so Scott, who during last year's gubernatorial campaign told Florida newspaper editorial boards to f**k off, has now done a complete one-eighty, embarking on a series of cleverly-orchestrated publicity stunts that all but guarantee the press will be eating out of his hand at every stop.
From the St. Petersburg Times, Aug. 4, 2011:
For three hours early Wednesday, Gov. Scott set aside matters of state to sell pastries — reviving an idea from former governor and U.S. Sen. Bob Graham to spend time working alongside typical Floridians … and to have the news media eat it all up.On Friday, Scott showed up at the Port of Miami for his fourth "workday".
"Workdays" began as a gimmick to launch Graham's 1978 gubernatorial bid but grew into a signature piece of his career.
Scott announced this week that he would try the idea himself as part of a series of changes to repackage himself to Florida voters.
Scott's revival of the workdays is his latest attempt to recast himself to Florida voters.
Changes started in April, when Scott reversed himself on substantive issues such as erasing his spending cuts for the care of disabled Floridians and dropping his opposition to a prescription drug database.
On Monday, he allowed reporters into his Tallahassee office for the first time. Scott now plans to meet with newspaper editorial boards — another first — and even changed the way he dresses. A more casual open collar and khakis have replaced his suit and tie. On Wednesday, he wore a black button-down shirt with the state seal and his name on it.
And the press ate it up.
Especially the Miami Herald.
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The story on Scott's "workday" was written by Associated Press writer Jennifer Kay. The Associated Press also sent a staff photographer to cover the event.
However, the Herald chose not to use any of the news service's photos.
Instead it ran one supplied by the PR firm representing Scott's "employer" for the day, Carnival Cruise Lines.
The photo was shot, not by a journalist, but by Andy Newman, Senior Vice President of Newman PR, Carnival's public relations firm for 22 years.
Newman and the Herald have long enjoyed a warm and cozy relationship. Too cozy.
In 1993, Miami New Times revealed,
For nearly four years Newman has faithfully provided Herald readers with dispatches from Key Largo to Key West, despite having to endure a confusing variety of bylines: "Andy Newman, Special to The Herald," "Andy Newman, Herald Sports Writer," "Andy Newman, Herald Writer," and often simply "Andy Newman." But his humble status at the bottom of the Herald food chain hasn't dampened Newman's spirit A or his productivity. Since 1990 the paper has published close to 70 of his contributions.Rick Scott will, no doubt, participate in more "workday" stunts in an effort to improve his image.
[But] unbeknownst to guileless readers of the Herald's sports section, Andy Newman is being paid to promote the Keys, though not by the Herald. As vice president of his father's Miami-based public relations firm, Stuart Newman Associates, he handles the $306,000 annual PR budget for none other than the aforementioned Monroe County Tourist Development Council. His job: to generate as much positive media coverage of the Keys as possible.
And if he does, hopefully our hometown newspaper won't be such a willing accomplice. But, if they do choose to cover it, hopefully they'll publish something that hasn't been run through some public relation firm's image-polishing filter.