Fedblog FedblogFedblog
Government Executive Editor in Chief Tom Shoop, along with other editors and staff correspondents, look at the federal bureaucracy from the outside in.

After Media Mockery, FBI Gets Last Laugh


The Washington Post reports today that the FBI's scheme to uncover legendary fugitive James "Whitey" Bulger and his girlfriend, Catherine Greig, involved a "sophisticated" campaign of television ads and Twitter posts aimed at finding someone who might've seen Greig at the beauty parlors, plastic surgery clinics and dentist's offices that she tended to frequent.

The agency paid $50,000 to run public service ads in 14 cities this week, targeted particularly at shows women of Greig's age and lifestyle might be likely to watch. And lo and behold, a tipster who had seen media coverage of the ad campaign got in touch with law enforcement officials and led them to Greig and Bulger.

Pretty effective campaign, right? Well it didn't look that way to some high-profile media types earlier this week, when the FBI announced its new effort. As TVNewser noted yesterday, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, in a voice dripping with sarcasm and mockery, called the campaign the "best new thing in the world" during her show on Monday.

"They think they will find Catherine with a little help from the ladies of 'The View,' " Maddow chortled. She went on: "Oh to have been a fly on the wall at the FBI when they decided they were going to go with this strategy: 'All right, I'll call the plastic surgeon trade publication, and you -- do you think we can get on The View?' Best new thing in the world today."

Just watch the contempt:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Likewise, Fox News' Bill O'Reilly greeted the news of the campaign with incredulity on Tuesday. After O'Reilly noted the FBI had spent "a lot of money" on the campaign, his guest, Boston radio talk show host Howie Carr, dismissed it out of hand: "I don't quite understand it, Bill. They haven't seen either Whitey or Catherine Greig in the United States since 1996. They haven't been seen anywhere in the world credibly since 2002. I don't know why they are running all these spots on American TV because I don't think they have been here for a long time."

Here's video of that encounter, courtesy of Mediaite:

In the future, these knee-jerk armchair critics of anything government does (on both the left and the right, it's worth noting) might want to wait until after the game is over to do their Monday-morning quarterbacking.


Tom Shoop is vice president and editor in chief at Government Executive Media Group, where he oversees both print and online editorial operations. He started as associate editor of Government Executive magazine in 1989; launched the company’s flagship website, GovExec.com, in 1996; and was named editor in chief in 2007.

Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.