A Disturbing New Trend In Crisis PR Apologies

Written by Brad Phillips on February 16, 2011 – 2:48 pm

Journalist Nir Rosen, a fellow at NYU’s Center For Law and Security, stepped down under pressure today after sending a series of offensive Tweets.

Shortly after CBS announced yesterday that correspondent Lara Logan had suffered a “brutal and sustained sexual assault,” Mr. Rosen wrote the following on Twitter:

“Lara Logan had to outdo Anderson [Cooper]. Yes yes its wrong what happened to her. Of course. I don’t support that. But, it would have been funny if it happened to Anderson too…jesus christ, at a moment when she is going to become a martyr and glorified we should at least remember her role as a major war monger…look, she was probably groped like thousands of other women”

 

Charming. Predictably, Mr. Rosen backtracked and apologized, offering the following:

“As someone who’s devoted his career to defending victims and supporting justice, I’m very ashamed for my insensitive and offensive comments.”

 

Journalist Nir Rosen

Mr. Rosen, like others who have Tweeted offensive remarks, hid behind his previous good deeds. He’s not alone. Kenneth Cole did the same thing after Tweeting a crass sales pitch during the Cairo uprising:

“I’ve dedicated my life to raising awareness about serious social issues, and in hindsight my attempt at humor regarding a nation liberating themselves against oppression was poorly timed and absolutely inappropriate.”

 

In their statements, both men tried the old, “Hey, come on, guys, I’m one of the good people, can’t you see?” defenses. Their statements suggest that they both think they deserve a pass – after all, it’s not like some asshole said those things, they imply, it’s just me, and I made a rare and forgivable slip.

I’m not sure why this approach – linking two unrelated things (an offensive comment and previously good deeds) – seems to have taken hold in crisis PR. What’s wrong with simply admitting responsibility, acknowledging critics, and pledging it will never happen again?

My sense is that by linking those two things, both men managed to simultaneously look defensive and cheapen the value of their earlier good deeds.

Note: In an interview with Fishbowl DC today, Rosen made at least two more mistakes. He said: “Like many men, I made a tasteless joke, more than tasteless of course, deeply offensive and hurtful when perceived to be sincere or when read by victims.” Instead of taking full responsibility, he lumped himself in with other men, hoping to inoculate himself from criticism. He also blamed misinterpretations on people who “perceived” his words “to be sincere.”


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Lara Logan & CBS News’ Perfect Statement

Written by Brad Phillips on February 15, 2011 – 7:31 pm

Earlier today, CBS News released a statement about news correspondent Lara Logan that contained horrifying news. Four days ago, Ms. Logan got separated from her crew in Cairo and sustained a “brutal and sustained sexual assault.”

This story sickens me, and I hesitate to even write about it. But Ms. Logan, her family, and CBS deserve credit for handling such a difficult moment with such grace, and I’d like to explain why they handled this moment so well.

CBS News Correspondent Lara Logan in Tahrir Square moments before she was attacked on Feb. 11, 2011. Photo: CBS

Too often, journalists – the same people who invade other people’s privacy at sensitive moments as a professional necessity – are the first people to plead for privacy when something happens to them.

But Ms. Logan’s plea for privacy comes only after releasing painful and difficult details – including those that few people want to release. For that, she deserves enormous credit. And precisely because her plea for privacy accompanied the release of key details, her request is likely to be honored.

The full statement from CBS News is below. May Ms. Logan have the most complete recovery possible.

CBS News’ Lara Logan Assaulted During Egypt Protests

CBS News Chief Foreign Correspondent Separated From Her Crew And Brutally Assaulted on Day Mubarak Stepped Down

(CBSNews)  On Friday, Feb. 11, the day Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepped down, CBS chief foreign correspondent Lara Logan was covering the jubilation in Tahrir Square for a “60 Minutes” story when she and her team and their security were surrounded by a dangerous element amidst the celebration. It was a mob of more than 200 people whipped into frenzy.

In the crush of the mob, she was separated from her crew. She was surrounded and suffered a brutal and sustained sexual assault and beating before being saved by a group of women and an estimated 20 Egyptian soldiers. She reconnected with the CBS team, returned to her hotel and returned to the United States on the first flight the next morning. She is currently in the hospital recovering.

There will be no further comment from CBS News and correspondent Logan and her family respectfully request privacy at this time.

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