Patrick Brazeau, Frank Magazine and a bunch of great publicity

The disgraced senator gets fired, but not before Frank gets free advertising

Fred Chartrand/CP

Patrick Brazeau’s tenure at Halifax’s Frank magazine was over very shortly after it began.

Earlier this week, the small East Coast news, humour and satire publication announced it had dumped Brazeau. He lasted less than two months, only long enough to write one column. Taking into account the fact he was hired Dec. 2, right before the House broke for the winter and MPs went back to their ridings, Brazeau likely had about two weeks of real work time before he got canned. It was just a long enough stint that the disgraced senator can now add disgraced freelance writer to his resumé.

“My dear, dear Frank readers. I love you, each and every one of you,” editor Andrew Douglas wrote on Frank’s website. “I have a job because of you. A job I really like. I owe you a lot. And how do I repay you? By exposing you to the narcissistic ramblings of Senator Patrick Brazeau.”

He went on to say that Brazeau’s copy was just plain bad, that he was unreliable and that he failed to show up for a scheduled radio interview.

“There wasn’t anything new,” writes Douglas. “A lot of it read like that Hail Mary speech he gave last fall before the Senate gave him the boot. We’ve only got one shot at this, I told him. Everyone’s paying attention. A rant devoid of new information, insight or perspective is useless, I advised.”

It was a fitting bookend to Brazeau’s very brief journalism career, one where his hiring was conducted with just as much fanfare as his firing. When Frank announced it would bring Brazeau on as a freelance columnist it was national news. This is the same man who was suspended from the Senate without pay in November after he was found to be claiming improper expenses. He is also facing a charge of assault and sex assault, connected to an incident in February 2013. Brazeau’s subsequent application for a press pass was probably the most reported on application in the Parliamentary Press Gallery’s history, with about a dozen journalists following the senator’s movements through the National Press Building as he performed the exciting task of showing ID and filling out a form.

His denial of membership in the press gallery a week later, on the grounds that Brazeau was still a senator, was also national news.

These two events alone would be some great national publicity for Frank, a small publication with a mainly regional readership. But Brazeau, a one-man publicity machine, wasn’t done. Even after he was fired, he kept the story going, using Twitter to defend himself.

Brazeau’s unique ability to garner media attention—almost always for the wrong reasons—was certainly a good thing for Frank Magazine. The big surprise was that Frank gave up on its bad-boy columnist so quickly. Even if Brazeau was a poor writer, and a little unreliable, the publicity of having him around to do outrageous things from time to time could have been a good investment for the tiny publication. On the other hand, if the allegations Frank’s editor makes are true, failing to return an editor’s phone calls or emails, and then not showing up for a booked media event is very bad form. It looks like Brazeau was more trouble that he was worth—a lesson the Conservatives already learned before they booted him from the party.

Now that Brazeau is gone from Frank, though probably not from the public eye, the magazine has some more column inches to fill. Hiring Brazeau went so well in terms of free media coverage that maybe Frank should look to another disgraced politician with zero previous professional writing experience as its next freelance columnist. And, there’s only one politician in Canada who can get himself into more trouble on a regular basis than Brazeau. Now that he’s been stripped of many of his official mayoral obligations, and lost his weekly talk radio show, Rob Ford must have some free time on his hands …