Today, Jenni Engebretsen was named "Deputy CEO for Public Affairs," for the upcoming Democratic National Convention in Denver -- but
she is better known as the Director of Communications for the Recording
Industry Association of America (RIAA).
The RIAA is the most hated "company" in America, according to a recent
poll on the Consumerist. The RIAA's campaign of suing thousands of
American music lovers has been the single biggest PR disaster in recent
industrial history -- which is why Engebretsen's employer beat out
Halliburton, Blackwater and Wal-Mart for the coveted "Worst Company" slot.
Engebretsen's PR approach is centered around stonewalling and avoiding
difficult press calls. She contacted me in 2005 to deny that the RIAA
had sent a takedown notice to a website called RPGFilms.net, and
promised to answer my followup questions in a day or two. After four
months of emailing and calling her, I finally got through to her (by
calling her from a different phone, so she couldn't see who was
She said that the RIAA had no comment.
The liberal blogosophere is united on many fronts -- not just disliking
US foreign policy. We also hate the RIAA -- for suing our friends, for
lobbying for laws that suspend due process rights of the accused (the
RIAA's favorite law, the DMCA, was used by Diebold to suppress
information about failures in its voting machines), and for demanding
the right to "pretext" (commit wire fraud) in order to catch "pirates."
Worse still, the RIAA are part of the initiative to corrupt net
neutrality, imposing centralized controls on the transmission of
information across the network.
It has been Engebretsen's job to sell these initiatives to the American
public. She's failed to sell this to the American public. Not only
does she take a paycheck for selling gangsters to the public -- she's
not very good at it!
The DNC can do better. This represents a potential shear with the
left-wing blogosphere. I hate what the GOP has done to this country, but
the RIAA isn't much better.
Funding for the Democratic National Convention comes from a different pool than general DNC operations. Here's a list of the largest donors to the DNC for the past two election cycles. If you know these people, you can contact them and urge them not to contribute to the DNCC.
You can also contact the DNC directly, using the information on its website.
The press-release about Engebretsen's appointment isn't online yet, but here's the relevant material:
Washington, DC –Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean today announced the six members of the senior leadership team for the 2008 Democratic National Convention Committee (DNCC). This talented group of professionals brings extensive experience representative of the commitment to excellence, inclusion and accessibility that will be a hallmark of the 2008 Denver Convention...
Jenni Engebretsen, Deputy CEO for Public Affairs
Jenni R. Engebretsen is currently the Director of Communications for the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the Washington, DC-based trade group that represents the U.S. recording industry. Before joining the RIAA, Engebretsen spent eight years working in Democratic politics, most recently as a Regional Communications Director for the Kerry-Edwards for President campaign, where she was responsible for developing campaign communications strategy for top-targeted states including Florida and New Hampshire. During the 2004 presidential cycle, she also served as Deputy Communications Director for the Democratic National Convention in Boston and as Press Secretary for the Edwards for President campaign during the primaries. Before that, she worked on Capitol Hill in the communications offices of Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Chuck Schumer ( D-N.Y.) and in the White House press office during the Clinton Administration. She is a graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.
I sought comment on this post from the DNC and from Jenni Engebretsen. Neither responded in time for initial publication. I welcome their replies and will append them to this post if they are forthcoming.