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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:

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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.

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