Michigan State University Reportedly Spent $500k To Monitor The Social Media Accounts Of Larry Nassar's Accusers And Journalists
from the money-poorly-spent dept
One of the largest stories of the past year has been the Larry Nassar story. Nassar, the now disgraced atheltic trainer for multiple entities, including USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University, has been accused by scores of women for sexual abuse and misconduct under the guise of his medical profession. Recently, Nassar’s boss at Michigan State, William Strimpel, who was the university’s dean of the osteopathic medical school, was himself charged with criminal sexual misconduct. Whatever is going on at Michigan State, it hasn’t been good for some time.
One would imagine that in the wake of the allegations and, in the case of Nassar, conviction, the school would be getting its collective shit together. Instead, MSU has taken on the project of obfuscating what occurred under the school’s watch and, reportedly, paying half-a-million dollars to have an outside firm monitor the social media accounts of Nassar’s accusers and the journalists that have been and are covering the story.
MSU hired the New York-based public relations firm Weber Shandwick to do more 1,440 hours of work. “The firm billed for work done by 18 different employees, whose hourly rates ranged from $200 to $600 per hour. Five of those employees billed MSU for more than $50,000, including one who billed for $96,900 and another who billed for $120,893,” according to the article.
During Nassar’s trial, MSU employees as high up as former school president Lou Anna K. Simon were furnished with regular reports on what his victims and journalists were saying on their social media accounts. The reports also went into some depth about which stories and which victims were gaining the most eyeballs in the public. I suppose the idea here was to allow the school to get out ahead of reports that were beginning to gain traction, though, as the Deadspin post notes, the idea that any of this should cost a school $500k is rather absurd.
That’s a lot of money to spend to find out that when your institution is found to have harbored and enabled a serial sexual predator for decades, people are going to write some mean things about you on Twitter.
Meanwhile, news of this surveillance of the victims puts the school on poor footing should it want to make any attempt to rehabilitate its image. It seems obvious that both the time and money spent on all of this could have been better spent making sure monsters like Nassar are never allowed to work at the school again, while also making reparations for the abuse that has already occurred under its watch.