“He has a public relations problem now!”
I’ve heard that phrase applied to many powerful men in recent weeks including Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Louis CK, Al Franken, Roy Moore, and others. Some have referred to sexual abuse allegations against them as crimes–and PR crises.
Yes, these individuals’ public images have been damaged as a result of the allegations. But much like Anthony Weiner and Bill Cosby, the men currently in the news were accused of sexual abuse and have far more than PR problems; some may face lawsuits and even criminal prosecution.
A lot of the public outrage directed at the accused has become a study in hypocrisy and double-standards. When news of sexual misconduct by actors and producers began to emerge, right wing media and politicians screamed about Hollywood’s immoral elite. Then, when allegations of stalking and abusing under-aged girls were leveled against GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore, the left screamed while many on the right reserved judgement or fell silent. Most hypocritical were Evangelical Christians who defended Moore’s potential crimes on religious grounds, adding cries of “fake news.” Then there’s the Hypocrite-in-Chief Donald Trump. He tweeted nothing about Roy Moore but was hyper-critical of Senator Al Franken (D-MN) whose indecent act was hardly the immoral equivalent. And at least Franken apologized sincerely. Plus–don’t forget–16 women have accused Trump of sexual assault. Pure hypocrisy.
In her new book What Happened, Hillary Clinton wrote, “Sometimes I wish every man across America understood is how much fear accompanies women throughout their lives… Many women I know have been groped, grabbed or worse…Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has written frankly about how Congressmen have leered at her and grabbed her by the waist in the congressional gym.” Gillibrand (D-NY) has co-authored a bill requiring sexual harassment awareness training and reform for members of Congress and their staffs.
Poor judgement, salacious lechery and immoral actions indeed create public relations problems. But PR is the least of the issues here. There will likely be more accusations, and such men should be examining their past and preparing to appropriately apologize–and face the consequences.