"That sounds about right." Tan Dongbang nodded and snapped impatiently, "Stop giving me trouble. I've fallen in the polls a lot lately. Bai Jiancheng has true ability. He didn't have to say anything and just had to use the incident of that female exchange student's parents going to Germany to attend the trials to become viral on social media. He's already exceeded me."
"I know, I know. Don't get too stressed out. Bai Jiancheng is just trying to build up publicity. Who wouldn't understand why he's doing it? He's treating people like idiots…" Cai Songyin snorted with derision. "What about your social media managers? Why aren't they following up?"
"Following up on what? You think they haven't tried? But they were shot down," Tan Dongbang said unhappily. "That post does make sense. It's true that regardless if Bai Jiancheng is using the incident for publicity or has ulterior motives, it doesn't change the fact that he is helping that family. Also, that family is not related to him, so it makes his motives even more lofty."
"Hmph! Lofty?! This election's voters are lackl.u.s.ter, if they are so easily misled!" Cai Songyin slapped the table. "We must find a way to turn the tables around. We can't let the Bai's keep gloating."
"What else can we do? Now that there's a ban on our daughter's incident, we can't use it for publicity or keep up with the exposure." Tan Dongbang was also unable to do anything.
"That's easy." Cai Songyin was a professor at the communications college, and the Cai's were also an esteemed academic family influential in the world of arts. Several of her cousins own film and TV companies, so Tan Dongbang's sudden popularity on social media was the result of their secret involvement.
"How could it be that easy? The election is in only two months. Isn't it too late already?" Tan Dongbang was very worried. "They'll be sure to continue using the German case for publicity. I heard the Bai's are paying the largest law firm in the United States to hire the best lawyer to represent that family in the civil proceedings. Overseas lawsuits are always dragged out. With the Bai's continued involvement, who will even remember us?"
"Don't fret!" Cai Songyin quickly rubbed Tan Dongbang's back in comfort. "Didn't I tell you that you don't have to worry about the media? Let me handle it."
"You really have a solution?" Tan Dongbang cast Cai Songyin a sidelong glance. "Don't overdo it, or it'll produce the opposite effect. Tell me, what do you plan on doing?"
"Fine, I'll tell you. I was planning this." Cai Songyin turned on her computer and searched for a lesser known piece of news. "Do you still remember Bai Yusheng?"
"Yes, how could I forget!? Traitor! Traitor to the nation!" Tan Dongbang punched the desk fiercely. "How much did our country suffer because of him!?"
"Right, don't forget that he's Bai Jiancheng's younger brother!" Cai Singyin opened another website with a smile. "Look, as long as we get online publicity on this piece of news, how can Bai Jiancheng be shameless enough to run for Prime Minister?!"
Tan Dongbang understood immediately. "How can that work? There is no collective punishment in our nation. Bai Jiancheng's younger brother breaking the law has nothing to do with him! The government investigated a long time ago, and if Bai Jiancheng was involved, how could he replace Dou Yongsheng as the acting Prime Minister?!"
"Right, there are no legal repercussions, but the elections do not depend on the law. The elections depend on the will of the people." Cai Songyin was very confident speaking about her profession. "Now that modern social media is all the rage, it has the ability to sway politics. As long as we release this piece of news and send internet water armies to carry momentum in all the major websites and forums, the normal civilians won't even consider the possibility. They will only believe that Bai Jiancheng's own brother Bai Yusheng betrayed the nation. Even if Bai Jiancheng is doing it to avoid a conflict of interest, he must resign from politics!"
Tan Dongbang stiffened, then he smiled wryly. "Bai Jiancheng resigning from politics? You're being too idealistic. That'll never happen. I'm telling you, do you know how powerful the entire Bai family is?" The Bai's had connections throughout the entire upper echelon of Hua Xia society through marriages, so even Cai Songyin's own family had indirect marital relations with the Bai's.
Of course, Cai Songyin was fully aware of this. She stood behind Tan Dongbang and smiled as she ma.s.saged his stiff back. "As if I need you to tell me? But you need to understand that creating public opinion online comes at an astronomical cost, then you must wait for the enemy to pay you back with their losses. Otherwise, it won't produce the antic.i.p.ated results."
"What do you mean?"
"Say for example, if you want to sell something for $1,000, you can't ask for $1,000 because the buyer will be sure to bargain. So in order to sell it for $1,000, you can ask for $2,000, and the buyer could only ask for a discount of $500, allowing you to sell for $1,500. If the buyer cuts the price in half to $1,000, then that's still the price you had in mind. Using media to create public opinion works on the same principle."
Tan Donbang understood Cai Songyin's a.n.a.logy. He frowned in thought for a long time. "But you still must be cautious. Don't arouse the netizens' resentment and make things worse."
"I know, I'll make sure they're careful." Cai Songyin stopped her movements. "Feel better?"
"Much better. Thank you, darling." Tan Dongbang squeezed her hand with a smile and watched her leave.
In the next few days before they could even take the news related to Bai Yusheng online according to plan, social media in the Hua Xia Empire suddenly flooded with news about He Zhichu, the professor specially hired by the B University faculty of law. It was revealed he was a partner in the largest American law firm and was also the most expensive lawyer in America.
This time, he was helping the commoner female exchange student's family with the lawsuit, and although the Bai's were footing the bill, He Zhichu expressed that the final lawyer fees would be one percent deducted from the target compensation when the case was won. This meant that if the case was lost, the Bai's wouldn't have to pay him a penny. If the case was won, then the Bai's also didn't have to pay him anything.
When this news came out, coupled with He Zhichu's aloof, professional, and extremely handsome profile, the entire appearance-crazy world of social media instantly went insane. He was such a capable lawyer with such an amazing resume and handsome face, how could anyone compete!
In nearly one second, He Zhichu's supporting fan group announced their establishment on Weibo, and Gu Nianzhi was able to magically be concealed amid the media frenzy. Aside from the people she was close with, almost no one knew that she was one of the main a.s.sistants accompanying He Zhichu to Germany for the case.
At the same time, He Zhichu suddenly became internet famous and made the Bai's look like extreme penny pinchers. The media companies related to Cai Songyin immediately followed up with reports. Aside from praising He Zhichu, they also began to target Bai Jiancheng and subtly snarked about him not spending a dime, yet gloating about being a "sponsor." It seemed that he was using the tragedy of someone's death in order to win the election.
Bai Jiancheng was extremely humiliated reading the reports and quickly ordered someone to contact the American law firm to say that the legal fees were to be paid for separately. Regardless if the case was won or not, they would not pay a penny too little. The Amerian law firm didn't dare to make the decision themselves and immediately forwarded the Bai's message to He Zhichu, who was preparing to leave for Germany.
As He Zhichu's a.s.sistant and teaching a.s.sistant, Gu Nianzhi had spent much of the last two days at He Zhichu's home helping him prepare the professional books and reference information to take abroad. Gu Nianzhi had a slight cold and took cold medication the night before. She had only been working for a bit when her head felt extremely leaden. She laid on the sofa to rest a little and didn't expect to fall asleep so quickly. He Zhichu didn't wake her up but took out a thin blanket to cover her body.
Suddenly, the email from the American law firm happened to arrive, and he immediately called back after reading it. "Mary, what is this?"
"Lawyer He, it's great you could call us back. We don't know what to do! The Bai's are insting that the legal fees be calculated separately…" Mary the secretary from the American law firm was losing her mind. She'd never come across someone insisting on paying like that! And to be in such a hurry to pay!
He Zhichu quietly listened to the entire incident then took out his phone to browse Weibo. He instantly understood why the Bai's were doing this. He was sitting sideways on the sofa, and Gu Nianzhi was sleeping close to where he was. He could reach out to touch her head. The living room window was open, and the slightly cool night breeze was flowing in from the French windows. He Zhichu adjusted the blanket for Gu Nianzhi before replying quietly into the phone, "They want to pay? Can they even afford it? Even if they can, aren't they worried people will question if their money is dirty?"
He Zhichu's legal fees were astronomical. His corporate law cases in the past could be completed in ten minutes, and his fee was 50,000 US dollars per minute. For publicly listed companies, that was within their budget. However, with civil proceedings accompanying criminal cases, one trial could last over an hour. Summing up all of the Bai's fortune, it should be just enough to cover He Zhichu's fees to complete the entire case. Of course, the Bai's wouldn't want to be bankrupt from the case, either.
Mary immediately understood He Zhichu's intention and asked, "Then what would Lawyer He like to do? The Bai's have expressed that there was no way they wouldn't be paying at all. You should also know that they are preparing for elections and have been accused of creating publicity. This will indeed hurt their chances of getting elected." The law firm also had a keen understanding of the climate. Bai Jiancheng was one of the candidates in the Hua Xia elections and had a high chance of becoming the future Prime Minister. On the principle of keeping a good future business relations.h.i.+p with him, the American law firm didn't want to make things difficult for him.
He Zhichu considered it for a while and finally said, "Then give him a friend's discount. Charge him according to my most expensive subordinate lawyer." While He Zhichu's legal fees were astronomical, his subordinate lawyers' weren't. The most expensive one didn't exceed 1,000 US dollars per hour, and this was a price the Bai's could definitely afford. "Also, we will certainly take the percentage we declared publicly." He Zhichu never lost money on a transaction, and since he was a lawyer, he had to be more considerate than others.
"Of course. I'll give them a quote. Thank you for your understanding." The secretary happily hung up and prepared a new contract to send to the Bai's.
He Zhichu ended the call and looked out at the night sky outside the window. He had a sudden craving for the taste of a stout draft beer.
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