Peyton Manning has reportedly hired PR pro Ari Fleischer in the wake of accusations leveled by Al Jazeera that the famous quarterback was involved in taking Human Growth Hormone (HGH) in 2011. Fleischer was press secretary for George W. Bush in his first term, and later worked with other athletes linked publicly to steroids, such as Tiger Woods and Mark McGwire. The Fleischer hire is a damage control measure by Manning, an attempt to influence the narrative as it moves forward after the Al Jazeera revelation. But Manning’s next move will be just as important as his damage control measures; if he’s indeed been wrongly implicated, then expect Manning’s next hire to be a big-time lawyer focused on defamation suits. If Al Jazeera left itself open to a suit in exposing Manning, the network’s enormously deep pockets will attract the cream of the attorney crop to represent Manning — and they’ll gladly take the case on a contingency. A Peyton Manning v. Al Jazeera case would pay handsomely in both cash and fame.
Al Jazeera is backed by the richest people on earth. Al Jazeera was founded by Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, who ruled the oil-rich nation of Qatar from 1995 to 2013. Qatar is often called the richest nation per capita. The network has more than 82 bureaus around the world, making it — by this measure — the second biggest media operation globally, after the BBC. In other words, Al Jazeera has very deep pockets. If Manning hires a defamation expert like LA-based Michael Niborski — who has worked with Aretha Franklin, Courtney Love, Martha Stewart and Steve Wynn — on top of the Fleischer hire, that will signal Manning is aiming for Al Jazeera’s deep pockets and that it’s innuendo, not evidence, he thinks Al Jazeera has unleashed on the public.