Through the Wire


Contributor: Ted Hearn.

Ralph Reed: The Right Guy for Cable?

Christian Coalition co-founder Ralph Reed’s association with disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff hasn’t devastated his lucrative political consulting business. Last Monday, Reed attended a National Show policy luncheon in Atlanta, pumping hands and swapping stories about baseball great Ted Williams with a few cable lobbyists he recognized.

In case you missed the press release — well, OK, there wasn’t a press release — Georgia-based Reed is working for the National Cable & Telecommunications Association to help stop AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. from securing sweetheart telecommunications legislation from Congress this year.

“Century Strategies, [Reed’s] firm, is one of the groups we use on the outside for grassroots [lobbying],” NCTA president Kyle McSlarrow said. “Century Strategies has an operation that deals with grassroots that goes toward conservative groups and individuals.”

Reed largely went unnoticed at the cable lunch, even though his reputation for sacerdotal piety has taken a big hit as a result of the Abramoff lobbying scandal. The Washington Post has reported that Reed’s “public relations and lobbying companies had received at least $4.2 million from Abramoff to mobilize Christian voters to fight Indian casinos competing with Abramoff’s casino clients.”

We spoke with Reed, but he declined to say anything on the record. Elsewhere, he has denied wrongdoing, accusing liberals of hurling unfair personal attacks. Reed isn’t letting the Abramoff scandal frustrate his political ambitions, either. He’s a candidate for lieutenant governor in Georgia.

“My sense is that if there is an [Abramoff] issue, it’s quite frankly applicable to his [campaign] race and it doesn’t seem to be bothering him in his race for lieutenant governor,” McSlarrow said. Asked if it had been unwise to hire Reed, McSlarrow added, “I have not seen anything to suggest that he’s ever done anything wrong.”

Roshambo-ing His Way Into 15 Minutes of Fame

Insight Communications Co. has been having some success connecting with its customers with an branding campaign designed to create an emotional connection with its customers.

The spots are crafted to communicate that Insight is a real company, not a machine, senior vice president of marketing and programming Pamela Euler Halling said at the National Show. The spots feature Insight workers, all the way up to CEO Michael Willner. He’s depicted in one ad going door-to-door, introducing himself as a rep of the cable company and offering help with “anything.”

That broad offer leads to the next scene, an overhead shot looking down on a Volkswagen under repair, with Willner under it. He rolls out, then, while looking under the hood, advises the customer to try the engine. It blows in a cloud of white smoke.

“We’re not so good with transmission,” the spot warns.

Halling said she’s inclined to shoot another in the series. During the convention she learned that an Insight employee — Chris Clemmer of the Insight Interactive unit, in Dallas — was in Las Vegas as a competitor in a USARPs-sanctioned event. That’s the official organization of players of the game of rock, paper, scissors (aka Roshambo). Yep, you read that right. These guys are serious — they sell game gear and offer strategy tutorials online.

Company spokeswoman Whitney Moose later related Clemmer finished eighth out of 50 combatants, losing to the eventual winner, a college lad from Omaha, who pocketed the $50,000 prize.

The championship is to be telecast on A&E in June, apparently, if you want to see Clemmer in action.

Just Get Them to The Park on Time

There are some perks to being a major company with a big local presence. You can call in some favors when you want to impress visitors.

While in Atlanta for the National Show, executives at Time Warner Inc. invited the board of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association to enjoy the opening day festivities for the Atlanta Braves in the Turner Broadcasting System Inc. box. But how would Turner get the execs from the Vanguard Awards, which was to end at 6:30 p.m. last Monday, to the game, scheduled to begin at 7:05 p.m.?

Obviously, the company knows who to talk to at city hall. A police escort was arranged to sweep the VIPs through the traffic to Turner Field in order to make game time.

Lost at National Show: Precious Diamond Ring

You might not have seen the fliers at the Georgia World Congress Center, but they packed an emotional punch. “Lost Engagement Ring. Just Engaged. Huge Sentimental Value!”

Convention attendee Luciana Bach removed the precious piece in a women’s rest room at the GWCC on Monday, April 10, at about 4:30 p.m. in the B5C area behind the GameTap booth (3707). She ran back about five minutes after realizing it was missing, but it had disappeared.

Sadly, as of Friday, Bach had no good news to report from lost and found or other sources.

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