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Monday, March 2, 2009

Presidio Trust's Fisher Museum Propaganda War Continues

Posted By on Mon, Mar 2, 2009 at 1:40 PM

The term 'Presidio Trust' has become an oxymoron
  • The term 'Presidio Trust' has become an oxymoron
The Presidio Trust is a wholly owned government corporation created by Congress to manage the Presidio.

The Presidio Trust is not a private fiefdom assigned to connive its way into granting Gap magnate Don Fisher his dream of creating a publicly-subsidized museum in his own honor. Somehow, however, nobody explained this nuance to Clay Harrell, the Trust's press flack, and, apparently, dissembler-in-chief.

Early last week, acting on a tip that the Trust was on the verge of releasing details of revised plans for the Fisher Museum, SF Weekly contacted Harrell, whose job it is to provide information to the public.

"Um, well, you know, we've been working on a lot of things, and the Fisher people, they're working too," Harrell said, by way of non-sequitur. During five rounds of back and forth, Harrell repeatedly attempted to deflect question of whether documents about the museum would be released.

SF Weekly, you see, has quoted critics of the museum plan, apparently a no-no that means we're not on the list of privileged insiders whom Trust staff speaks to truthfully. Critics have accused the trust of so keenly desiring the Fisher Museum that it's waging a version of propaganda warfare, concealing information from perceived enemies, while slipping advance information to on-message journalists. As a result, critics of the plan are quoted with less frequency than they'd like. And the Fisher project plows ahead, despite the fact it's been all but denounced by the very National Park Service that must sign off on the project.

After five rounds of dissembling runaround from Harrell, during which he pretended to know nothing about the Trust's plans to release new Fisher Museum information, SF Weekly finally asked Harrell: "If you're not releasing documents this week, why haven't you said, 'We're not releasing documents this week'?"

Rather than answering directly, Harrell said he'd get back to us. He hasn't, nor has he returned our follow-up call. The documents were released three days after our call. But not to us.

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Matt Smith

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