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It doesn't happen often and SPINdex is reluctant to admit it when it does, but it was wrong about Dick Morris. Not only can this spin doctor heal himself, but he's established a new specialty practice for the treatment of one very lucrative client-Dick Morris.

Two weeks ago, Morris topped the SPINdex charts with a torrent of mostly negative publicity surrounding reports of his affair with a prostitute and his subsequent dismissal as top media strategist to President Clinton.

In the two weeks following that coverage, media maestro Morris has leveraged the negative publicity into a new cottage industry as an author, a media pundit and even a media marketing tool for The New Yorker, which used an off-the-record breakfast with Morris to impress its tony advertisers.

Whether Morris will regain his credibility isn't yet clear, but SPINdex knows you can say whatever you want about Morris as long as you spell his name with a dollar sign. Even negative spin has been translated into big business.

For the two weeks leading up to this week's column, coverage of Morris marketing activities related to his $2.5 million Random House book deal generated a SPINdex of 444, more than any other marketing topic measured.

Print and wire service journalists in the SPINdex sample of media outlets devoted 69 stories and 48,281 words of copy to the book deal alone.

The story overshadowed coverage of any other marketing event tracked in the period, including Consumers Union's assault on the safety of the Isuzu Trooper and Isuzu's return volley on the credibility of Consumers Union's testing. That story ranked second with a SPINdex of 106 generated by 14 stories totaling 28,975 words of copy.

The marketing implications of the Gillette-Duracell merger elicited only nine stories and 4,517 words of copy for a third place of 53, nudging out fourth place finisher ABC sitcom "Ellen," which attracted six stories and 4,103 words of copy for a SPINdex of 52 based on a TV Guide report that title character Ellen would come out of the closet as a lesbian this prime-time season.

"Ellen" likely generated significant additional media impressions, as the news broke right on SPINdex's deadline, as did Procter & Gamble Co.'s announcement that it would market a line of Pringles featuring the fat substitute olestra.

Joe Mandese is senior VP of Myers Reports. Mark Weiner is VP of Medialink PR Research.

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