A crisis public relations consultant created a crisis of her own for the Broward school district, after a video came to light in which she dismissed the district’s critics in the Parkland massacre as “crazies” and called a reporter a “skanky” “jerk” who “smells bad.”
Sara Brady, who was paid nearly $75,000 to assist the district after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, told an audience of public relations professionals last July that critics of the school district’s controversial Promise program, which allowed students who commit minor crimes to avoid jail, were “crazies.” The comments came during a speech Brady gave about crisis management for schools and focusing on how to preserve the school’s reputation by using various tactics to influence public opinion.
The 90 minute video, which was taken down from a now-deleted Vimeo account hosting videos of Brady’s work, was shot in July 2018 at the 18th Annual Public Relations Executives Meeting for the Council of the Great City Schools.
She criticized South Florida Sun Sentinel reporter Scott Travis, although she didn’t name him, as “a jerk,” and then she got more personal.
“He is sloppy, he’s reckless, he’s mean, and he smells bad,” she said, laughing along with the audience.
At the point, Broward school district spokeswoman Tracy Clark can be heard calling out, “Sour milk!” That provoked more laughter.
At another point in the video Brady describes him as “that nasty, skanky reporter.”
Her statement about “crazies” concerned what happened after a state commission concluded that the Promise program had not been a factor in the shooting. The district put out a tweet about that conclusion, prompting criticism from the district’s detractors.
“And sure enough, all the crazies kind of came out,” Brady told an audience in California, in a video revealed by the South Florida Sun Sentinel in a recent story about the school district’s public relations damage control after the shooting. “The district knows who the crazies are and who the opposition is, and so certainly they seized on it and started putting stuff out there.”
The Promise program had been seized upon nationwide by conservative critics who were happy to lay part of the blame for the shooting on a program supported by President Obama. But the program had also been criticized by many family members of the victims in the massacre.
“Our leaders don’t care about Parkland families!” Hunter Pollack, whose sister Meadow was killed in the attack, said in a Twitter post that went viral. “Broward’s Superintendent and his PR person called grieving families “crazies,” “the opposition,” and call hardworking reporters “skanks” for exposing the truth. Retweet and expose them all!”
Brady, of Winter Park in suburban Orlando, apologized, saying her comments had not been aimed at the bereaved families.
“Mr. Pollack … my remarks were intended to poke at the media in general,” she wrote in response. “I offer my profound apology for my lapse in judgment and display of disrespect.”
“I probably went a little overboard in my comments about the reporter,” said Brady, a former police reporter at the Orlando Sentinel. “It’s just kind of shop talk. I acknowledge that.”
“My bigger concern is that anyone who lost a loved one thinks I was referring to them,” she said. “And I was not, in any way, shape or form.”
Broward school superintendent Robert Runcie, who watched the video the previous night, called Travis to apologize, saying said the comments were “inexcusable and don’t reflect the values of the district.”