On Jan. 10 I reported that Craig James hired Dallas-based public relations firm Spaeth Communications before he went public to complain about Texas Tech football coach Mike Leach’s treatment of his son Adam.
That followed a Jan. 8 piece I wrote about the James-hired p.r. firm, which was the architect of the “Swiftboat” public relations campaign launched against 2004 presidential candidate John Kerry.
Melinda Alvarado of FOX 34 in Lubbock and Katie Bauer of NBC’s KCBD-TV in Lubbock report Craig James testified under oath on Saturday about Spaeth’s role in, based on James’ comments in his deposition, what appears to be a concerted public relations campaign designed to discredit Leach.
Alvarado reports for FOX 34:
Ted Liggett, counsel for Mike Leach, says Craig James admitted he has hired Spaeth Communications Group out of Dallas, and that Spaeth Communicated with Texas Tech in a manner to manipulate messages to the media regarding Adam James and Mike Leach. Including actually using pseudonyms to go online and blog and try to shake the nature of the news.
Bauer of KCBD also noted of James’ sworn testimony:
Liggett says during the deposition, Craig admitted he hired a communications group out of Dallas to manipulate messages to the media, including those closet videos that were circulating on the web.
The “closet videos” of Adam James first surfaced when posted on WFAA-TV’s website in Dallas on Dec. 30 with the following attribution:
“This video link was given to WFAA.com by representatives of the James familiy. We have found that it is Adam James in a electrical closet, but we do not know if it was during a practice.”
Until his deposition on Saturday, Craig James never identified who was responsible for uploading the videos and circulating them to the media via a pseudonym.
Though Spaeth Communications founder Merrie Spaeth confirmed to me on the record on Jan. 10 that her firm was behind providing the unattributed Adam James video to WFAA. From my Jan. 10 post:
Spaeth also provided previously unreported details about the Adam James cellphone video. She said that James actually shot two videos during his separate confiments at Texas Tech practices and, “showed them to his parents.”
Those videos were part of the impetus for Craig James taking the complaint against Leach public. Immediately after the second video was shot, Craig James contacted Spaeth to advise him.
Spaeth said the public release of the Adam James cellphone video was based on prior statements by Leach: “We came to a consensus that the video should be released to the public after Leach said some things that were at odds with Adam’s story.”
Adam James also gave a sworn deposition Saturday in Lubbock. Alvarado of FOX 34 reports of his statements under oath:
Liggett also says they stand by sworn testimony from Trainer Steve Pincock and several others, that Adam James was never told to go into an electrical closet. Liggett says Adam admitted under oath, that while in the media room, he was told to stay there, and that he didn’t follow instructions and that he went into the electrical closet and he took the film.
As an aside, on Jan. 1, Pete Thamel and Thayer Evans of the NEW YORK TIMES reported that according to a sworn statement by Tech Trainer Pincock, Leach never had knowledge of where the trainer placed Adam James.
Based on sworn statements from Adam James and Tech Trainer Steve Pincock, Adam was never ordered confined to the electrical closet and only went into the area to shoot video. That video was later released anonymously by Craig James-hired Spaeth Communications on Youtube with an accompanying blog post that stated in part:
This video was taken by Adam James, a player on the Texas Tech Red Raider football team on Saturday, December 19th, after being confined by Coach Mike Leach in an electrical closet off the Press Room at Jones AT&T Stadium.
At 2:02pm on Dec. 30, 2009, the ASSOCIATED PRESS reported Mike Leach was fired by Texas Tech. That dismissal was met with shock and outrage by Texas Tech fans, students and donors. Donors who have subsequently stop giving money to the school, causing academic program cuts.
At 7:50pm on Dec. 30, 2009, the Adam James video that was uploaded under a pseudonym on Youtube was posted to WFAA-TV’s website in Dallas and subsequently broadcast on ESPN, the network that employs Craig James.
Based on on the record comments from Merrie Spaeth to me, sworn statements from Craig and Adam James and Texas Tech Trainer Steve Pincock, it appears that it would not be inaccurate to observe that Craig James used a public relations firm to spread misinformation about the nature of Adam James’ confinement.
That misinformation was then reported and broadcast by James employer ESPN, along with other main media outlets, and may have damaged the reputation of Leach and affected the coach’s subsequent wrongful termination lawsuit against the school.