Archive for August 3rd, 2006

More about Mel

August 3, 2006

Elaine writes an interesting comment on this blog. Why should Mel be taking this kind of heat considering what other celebs have done? I think the simple answer to that is that not all sins are equal. It used to be there were large segments of America who had a hard time forgiving a celebrity for adultery. Now I’m not sure that word is even in the dictionary any more.

Things that are more forgiveable by the public: addiction, domestic violence, lying, fraud, etc., etc. I was tempted to put murder in that category and in some respects it belongs there. But anti-semitism is not one of those. It is like child sexual abuse. That is not acceptable or easily forgiveable. So if alcohol was Mel’s real problem that would be one thing. Deep-seated anti-semitism is simply less of a forgiveable offense. The watercooler talk I hear on this issue is that the alcohol simply loosened his tongue to reveal his true attitudes. If that is how the public views it, he is in real trouble.

The question then arises, how to fix it?

There’s a hint in this story:

In a sign that the Gibson camp gained some ground Tuesday, several Jewish leaders offered reserved praise for Gibson’s apology. They said it was an improvement over a statement Gibson issued Saturday that only vaguely referred to “despicable” remarks.

“It addresses the issue, it addresses the substance,” said Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League. “I have two caveats. One, it’s another publicist statement and makes me a little bit uncomfortable because the publicist issued the statement earlier in the week. To what extent is it a true reflection of Mel Gibson’s true feeling? The other issue is two years ago when we dealt with the issue of `The Passion of the Christ,’ the same publicist reached out to me and told me how much Mel Gibson respects me and what kind of good guy he is, and (that) Mel Gibson wants to meet. Well, did I meet you? We never met.”

I have long advocated that if you lose your credibility you are sunk. There are only a couple of things left to do. One is borrow someone elses. Right now, any Jewish friends that are prominent and well respected that Mel has are critical to come to his rescue. Someone whom the Jewish community respects needs to come forward and say publicly: “I know this man, he is a good man, he is not perfect but he does not hate Jews.” Mel’s reputation may very well depend on the credibility of that voice, how far and wide that that message goes out.

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Might as well join the Mel Gibson frenzy

August 3, 2006

Can’t believe all the coverage around the Mel Gibson debacle. Now that I heard what he said and heard some rumors about family issues relating to anti-semitic attitudes, it is clear that the hole he is in is very very deep.

It’s interesting to see that there are varying views in the PR/Crisis Management industry around this event. This article identifies some of those differences. Including comments by my associate Jonathan Bernstein.

My take: Gibson is in deep trouble. Bernstein is right that he needs to say the right things and do the right things. In terms of what he should have said and when, I believe he needed to come out strong as early as possible with the strongest possible apology, accept responsibility, not duck from what he said or did, ask for help, and explain what he is doing to address the situation. A lot of it he is doing, but some muck is just too thick.

Oh yeah, Mel needs a blog. A crisis blog.

Trouble brewing for craigslist?

August 3, 2006

Interesting article in TechCrunch.

Seems the bad guys are figuring out ways to use the popular site to lure victims. This is about a former football player who allegedly meets his victims by connecting on craigslist to sell them electronic equipment. Then he stuns then with a Taser and robs them.

In the process of reading this story I learned a new term: meatspace. Apparently, that means the real world as opposed to the virtual world or blogosphere or myspace world. Oh boy.

Now I agree that this is a potential PR problem for craigslist and other sites like this. But you gotta ask why? I would say it’s a problem for Taser too because both are tools that people use to do dastardly things. But they use screwdrivers and hammers for ugly purposes, too. Cigars too, sometimes. Why should the tools get the blame?

One answer to that is the political game. As politicians have been known to make hay about the bad thing about Tasers, now some can use this to say there has to be come controls on sites like craigslist. Hooey. We have so many laws and regulations to protect us against all kinds of dangers and risks and even the innocent tools used by bad guys get sucked into this. Let’s make sure we separate the bad people who do rotten things from the innocent tools they use to do those things. And, by the way, I think that message needs to be part of craigslist and the industry’s response to what may be a brewing brouhaha over this.

Reyes story: good article, no credit

August 3, 2006

I mentioned my half hour long interview with San Jose Mercury News columnist Michael Langberg about the Greg Reyes case on stock option fraud. Great article. Some of the comments he makes sound strangely familiar. Such as the point about their being two courts and the evidentiary rules being very different. When I talked to him he said several times, “Well, that’s an interesting point.” But, do you see my name mentioned? Any credit given?

Well, most people complain that they can’t get a quotation right. At least this way there is no way to complain about him saying things I didn’t say.

The article is great by the way. Read it. It makes a compelling case not just for crisis management in a white collar criminal investigation but highlights the way the reputations can be ruined by the presumption of guilt in the media. Once that happens, it is a very deep hole to crawl out of.