Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

United Airlines earns more headlines than Kanye West.

In concert with West, not all those headlines are positive.

Indeed, if one looks back at, oh, the last 12 months the majority of those headlines have been a touch on the negative side.

What with dragging paying, bloodied passengers down aisles, mislaying -- or even snuffing out the life of -- dogs and treating its employees like game show contestants, United continues to be a case study for How To Shoot Yourself In The Foot And Then Shoot At The Other Foot Until You Have No Feet.

The airline is conscious that it doesn't come across quite as it would like.

It's already promised to curtail its habit of bumping passengers. It's training its employees to be, well, a touch more human. Or to be allowed to be.

Yesterday, it took another big step in its self-help program.

It hired Josh Earnest.

If ever there was anyone with the perfect name for his job, it would be Earnest. 

You might remember the last time he was in the limelight. Yes, he was the charming White House press secretary in President Barack Obama's latter days.

And now he's the new senior vice president and chief communications officer for United.

The airline's CEO Oscar Muñoz offered a touching, almost wry welcome to his new PR man.

"Josh is a proven leader and world-class communications strategist who has thrived when the stakes are the highest -- and the margin for error is the smallest," said Muñoz.

Oh, I don't know about those highest stakes.

I can't remember President Obama being held responsible for a dog's death or offering government employees a spot on The Price Is Right to earn their bonuses.

Moreover, in his days with Obama, Earnest insisted that he wasn't just keen to reveal accurate information, but also accurately reflect his boss's thinking.

How would he have managed that if he'd been there when Muñoz initially blamed Dr. David Dao for his bloodied eviction from a United flight?

Those of jaundiced disposition will wonder whether Earnest is quite ready for the true depths of a classic United snafu.

Or a Snafunited, as they're sometimes called.

Earnest's time at the White House, between 2014 and 2017, was one of relatively smug calm. 

There were chuckles at the idea of a Trump presidency. There was a deep (over) confidence that Hillary Clinton would win.

He could offer urbane humor to reporters, many of whom shared the president's political persuasion.

At United, he may find a touch more unrest. 

Employees aren't universally happy souls.

They worry that the airline's every move harbors nothing other than an attempt to garner more money at the expense of, well, human civilization.

Oddly, many passengers feel the same way, as they're squeezed into ever-tinier seats, while their pockets feel an unwelcome, itchy infiltration from United's rapacious bean counters.

It will be pulsating to see how Earnest leads the reaction to the next big United PR crisis.

You know there will soon be one.

They're like flight cancelations.

Sometimes they happen two or three at a time.

Published on: May 4, 2018