In January 2014, Publicis Groupe acquired DC-based crisis comms firm Qorvis and announced plans to merge the company with MSL Group. At the time, the company called the entity “a new powerhouse in Washington.”
Today we got a good example of what that means.
Last night our sister site TVNewser broke the story of Matthew Luke, a former Al Jazeera America employee fired in February who is suing the company for $15 million. Among the most controversial assertions in his suit are claims that his former employer, AJM SVP Osman Mahmud, made “discriminatory, anti-Semitic and anti-American remarks” including this line:
“…whoever supports Israel should die a fiery death in hell.”
The suit also claims that Mahmud made misogynistic comments and removed women from certain assignments. After news of the suit went public, the company’s executive vice president of human resources Diana Lee and EVP of communications Dawn Bridges both resigned…and AJM turned to PR AOR Qorvis to help deal with the fallout.
Here’s the note sent to TVNewser from MSL Qorvis co-founder/President Michael Petruzzello:
“Al Jazeera America does not comment on pending litigation. The company takes these matters seriously and will respond in the appropriate forum. Al Jazeera America’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is fundamental to its mission, and is boldly reflected throughout the company: in its staff, its leadership and its programming.”
Given the fact that many Americans expressed a distrust of Al Jazeera before it even launched in this country due, in large part, to its name, this should not be an easy assignment.