As a professional PR consultant, it’s in my blood to believe there are few (if any) situations that can’t be managed effectively through communications strategy. So as I watched the Anthony Weiner debacle this week, I asked myself “Can he survive this scandal? And if so, how?”
In a CBSnews.com post, Political Analyst John Dickerson argued that Weiner can recover from this mess, but he has to “go away . . . stop being a distraction” and “stop being a punch line.”
My question for Mr. Dickerson: Have you ever seen Anthony Weiner at work (and I don’t mean in that way)?!
Weiner has never met a camera he didn’t love. He is legendary for going to the House floor and launching in to an apoplectic fit, creating a scene that would play out on all the 24/7 cable news outlets. He would seek out interviews like they were oxygen—his life depending on the media attention.
And on Dickerson’s advice to avoid being a punch line . . . C’mon John, this guy’s name is Weiner and he just sent pictures of his junk all over social media. There are enough jokes here to make comedy writing the biggest growth industry of the 21st century.
Simply put, I don’t think Weiner is capable of doing the things Dickerson outlined. As a media consultant, you have to know your client and be honest about his/her strengths and shortcomings. Weiner is so arrogant, he thought he could trot out bold face lies on dozens of national media outlets and get away with it. That kind of egotism doesn’t melt away with one emotional and epically awkward mea culpa in front of the press.
There is only one way Weiner can begin to rebuild his credibility and make this mess go away – announce a career change. Anthony, it’s time to wave the white flag. Though I want to believe as a professional communicator that there is a way to get through this and maintain a political career, all evidence screams “no way.” It’s either/or but not both. If he stays in office, this scandal will never, ever go away. If he wants this media nightmare to end, it will cost him his job.
PR professionals in our industry often jump in the foxhole with a client in crisis to defend them. Much of the time, that’s the right strategy. But sometimes the client would be best served by having someone pull them out of the foxhole to end the bludgeoning. It’s common sense, but the best strategy always involves doing the right thing, and we, as media consultants, should never fear pointing that out—even if it’s not what the client wants to hear.
In Weiner’s case, there is only one right thing to do: resign.
Agree or disagree? Disappointed there wasn’t enough sophomoric humor in this blog? Don’t be a Weiner – let me hear from you.
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