Shame can be a good thing. It can hold people accountable for the mistakes they make. At its best, it can lead to true contrition and a genuine desire to change behavior.
And then there’s Eliot Spitzer.
The former NY Governor and no-holes-barred prosecutor wants to make a comeback from the prosecution scandal that ended his governorship. He’s running for NY City Comptroller. Spitzer maintains we all have “urges” and his failing was he didn’t keep his in check.
Can’t say I’ve ever had an urge to be with a prostitute, have you?
Yet, Spitzer believes he should be leading us. His comeback has little to do with public service. It’s about ego and limelight. His race is a political calculation about just how low the voters’ standards are. “There is not a standard of purity that applies in public service,” he said. If there was, “we would have a very short list of individuals who could then serve.”
Spitzer no doubt made the late entry into the race because he saw how well Anthony Weiner was doing in the polls for mayor. Weiner is another sex oddball with a comeback story and big ego.
Their races are more about the electorate than they are about the men involved. Just where do the voters’ standards lie? Is this the end of shame? Or the beginning of a new standard.
The writer, a one-time elected official, is a political and communication strategist and speaking coach.
When the press begins to call a U.S. Congressman the “Peter Tweeter,” there’s a pr problem.
First, let’s be honest. The guy’s name has made it a bigger story. That’s just plain bad luck for him. It reminds us of 1988 presidential contender Gary Hart fooling around with his mistress Donna Rice on the yacht, Monkey Business.
Just today (June 6th), a new report from a conservative website, Big Government, claims it has been contacted by another woman claiming she had exchanged intimate photos and online communications with Congressman Anthony Weiner.
We don’t know what the truth is yet, but it is true Congressman Weiner has thrown gas on the fire by not being straightforward about a lewd photograph sent from his Twitter account to a college co-ed. Though Weiner claims his account was hacked into (certainly possible), the real story has been the odd approach to answering, or should I say, not answering, media questions. Weiner even refuses to say “with certitude” if the picture is of him.
Weiner is a case study in how not to handle a communication crisis. His obfuscation only prompts further scrutiny. The nature of his answers leads one to believe he is hiding something. The media will not rest until they discover what it is.
Whatever the full story is, it will get a lot more attention now than it would have a week ago because of the firestorm Weiner has created. When bad news hits, get in front of the story, come clean, say you are sorry, and try to move on. Added Post Script: Just hours after this post, Weiner held a press conference to announce he’d been lying for days and that he had sent sexual photos and tweets to about six women. Now, his tweets are not his biggest problem, his truthfulness is now in play. What a horribly mismanaged communication crisis.
Mark Grimm is a former TV news anchor/producer and adjunct journalism professor who runs a small training and media relations business.