A wife catches her husband in bed with another woman. He denies anything is going on and asks: “Who are you gonna believe – me or your lying eyes?”
That old joke came to mind the other day while I was reading the latest absurd statement from UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi. I almost admire the chutzpah of this scoundrel who just isn’t going to let go of her $424,360 a year job and the lucrative perks that come with it. Katehi seems convinced she can spin her way out of any “missteps” she has made.
Earlier this month, the Sacramento Bee reported that the school spent at least $175,000 to scrub the Internet of negative publicity surrounding the 2011 pepper-spraying episode and execute an online branding campaign to boost the image of the university and chancellor. This effort came in addition to a huge jump in the UCD strategic communications budget since Katehi’s hiring.
Caught using taxpayer money to undo one of her “missteps” and making a mockery of the University of California motto “Let there be light,” Katehi sought refuge in a bold claim of stupidity. In an April 18 statement, Katehi said:
In hindsight, we should have been more careful in reviewing some of the more unrealistic and ridiculous scope-of-work claims in the written proposals of our outside vendors. What might be accepted industry hyperbole in the private public relations world falls far beneath the high standards of a public institution of higher learning.
The UCD chancellor would have us believe that she and her staff overlooked some mind-numbing fine-print language buried deep in these contract proposals. But here’s what one of the companies had to say in its six-page proposal, according to the Bee.
“Nevins & Associates is prepared to create and execute an online branding campaign designed to clean up the negative attention the University of California, Davis, and Chancellor Katehi have received related to the events that transpired in November 2011.”
UC Davis hired Nevins & Associates in 2013 in a six-month contract that paid $15,000 a month. The university later paid a second company more than $80,000 to “design and execute a comprehensive search engine results management strategy,” the Bee said.
Despite these facts, Katehi proclaimed in her statement:
None of our communications efforts were intended — or attempted — to erase online content or rewrite history.
So, when the UCD chancellor is caught in bed, so to speak, with suitors seeking to manipulate online content for her benefit, are you going to believe her or the evidence in front of you?
I’ll go with the evidence, but as a native of New York, I find her chutzpah impressive.