MSU Hired PR Firm To Follow Conversation Around Larry Nassar Scandal
The school is under investigation by the Michigan attorney general's office for its role in the sexual abuse scandal.
During the fallout of the Larry Nassar case, Michigan State University paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to a public relations firm that reported back on media coverage, statements made on social media by abuse survivors and more.
Many media outlets — including Newsy — reported that New York-based firm Weber Shandwick was hired to monitor what these sources were saying, but the firm says that's not an accurate picture of the work it did.
The Lansing State Journal reports the firm sent university staff members breakdowns of news stories and social media posts from Nassar's victims, celebrities, politicians and journalists. It also prepared summaries of how much traction those posts were getting during the case.
Weber Shandwick billed the university more than $500,000 for January, according to documents obtained by the Journal. The firm says it worked with MSU from late December to early March.
For its part, Weber Shandwick says this kind of work is routine. It said in a statement: "As with any assignment, we forwarded to our clients traditional media and publicly available social media pertaining to the horrible tragedy at MSU, including statements made online by the victims. The victims were and continue to be the most important voices in the conversation."
The firm says the bulk of its work focused on "crisis counsel." Newsy has reached out for information about what crisis counsel entails, but Weber Shandwick's website mentions guiding clients to "respond in a timely, appropriate and confident manner" when there are "negative events affecting their reputation."
The editor of MSU's school newspaper told CBS News the survivors "seem to be very upset" about the firm reporting on their social media activity.
Nassar, a doctor who worked for MSU and USA Gymnastics, has been accused of sexual abuse by more than 250 women and girls. He's been sentenced to at least 140 years in prison.
Power Outages Could Last Days After Shootings At Substations
In response to ongoing outages in Moore County, North Carolina, officials announced a state of emergency, and schools were closed Monday.By John Nagy / The Pilot via AP
Sheriff: Vandalism Cuts Power Across North Carolina County
More than 40,000 electric customers in the county remained without power on Sunday morning, according to poweroutage.us.By John Nagy/The Pilot via AP
San Francisco Will Allow Police To Deploy Robots That Kill
San Francisco police would only use killer robots "in extreme circumstances to save or prevent further loss of innocent lives," a spokesperson said.By Eric Risberg / AP
Why Do We Have Middle Names?
What is the history behind having a middle name, and where did it originate from?By Newsy
Blinken Vows U.S. Support For Israel Despite Unease Over Government
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. will remain a friend of Israel even as it pursues goals that Prime Minister Netanyahu has opposed.By Carolyn Kaster / AP
China Eases Controls, Gives No Sign When 'Zero COVID' Ends
China is easing some of the world’s most stringent anti-COVID controls and authorities say new variants are weaker.By Andy Wong / AP