Mayor Takes Sex Scandal from Bad to Worse

 Mayor Takes Sex Scandal from Bad to Worse

The PR Verdict: “F” (Full Fiasco) for San Diego Mayor Bob Filner.

Lately, barely a week goes by that a male politician isn’t apologizing for some sort of sexually naughty behavior. Last week that began with Anthony Weiner apologizing for new accusations of sending sexual texts to women, and it ended with San Diego Mayor Bob Filner facing charges of sexual misconduct.

Specifics quickly took the vagaries out of the charges, filed via a lawsuit. Women who worked with the 70-year-old mayor say he tried to forcibly kiss them, touched them, made unwanted sexual advances, and put his former communications director in a headlock. At a press conference this past Friday, Filner refused to comply with demands for his resignation. Instead, he apologized for his behavior toward women “over many years” and introduced his solution: two weeks of therapy.

Friday is typically a slow news day, a time when politicians make changes that will get lost in a pre-weekend shuffle. The two-week therapy cure ensured that Filner’s news remained a top story throughout the weekend. Demands for his resignation, even from fellow Democrats, only mounted. It’s unlikely that the twice-daily briefings Filner will receive while in intensive therapy will contain other developments.

THE PR VERDICT: “F” (Full Fiasco) for San Diego Mayor Bob Filner. Somehow, he managed to make a bad situation worse.

THE PR TAKEAWAY: Take advice from the other side. On political drama The West Wing, the Democratic president hired a Republican advisor as a sounding board for partisanship. If the scriptwriters of an evening television program knew this, why couldn’t Filner’s PR team see a perfect storm gathering? Filner’s apology was flimsy, and he compounded the fracture with the admission that this has been going on “over many years.” And many years of sexual harassment is somehow to be cured in two weeks of therapy? That’s rather a lot to ask the public to swallow. While we can’t be sure, it seems unlikely that Filner’s PR team included a female perspective. There again, considering his admitted attitudes toward women, it’s doubtful he would have listened.

 

The PRV Report Card: This Week’s Winners & Losers

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersPR WINNER OF THE WEEK: “A” (PR PERFECT) to Pope Francis for continuing to stoke the ardor of the Catholic faithful on the first official papal trip abroad. In stark contrast with Pope Benedict’s drop-by in 2007, the pope was met by rapturous crowds in Rio de Janeiro on this week’s trip to Brazil for World Youth Day, which attracts hundreds of thousands of young Catholics from around the world. Seen carrying his own bag onto the plane in Italy and cruising around Rio in a mini-van with the windows rolled down and a limited security detail, Francis’ humble nature has charmed and reinvigorated his 1.2 billion-strong flock.

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & Losers

PR LOSER OF THE WEEK: “F” (FULL FIASCO) to Anthony Weiner, who had to admit to and apologize for more sex-related emails again. The ones that most recently came to light show that Weiner – excuse us, “Carlos Danger,” his online handle – continued sexting even after such activity forced him to step down from his congressional seat, and while posing for glossy redemption stories in People and the New York Times Magazine. One would think that the hopeful mayoral candidate would have put down the keyboard and pulled up the zipper if only to avoid headlines by the New York Post such as WEINER: I’LL STICK IT OUT.

 The PRV Report Card: This Weeks Winners & LosersTHE PRV “THERE’S NO ‘THERE’ THERE” AWARD TO THE US National Security Agency, whose Orwellian ability to eavesdrop on electronic correspondence practically anywhere in the world apparently doesn’t extend to its own email system. ProPublica, the non-profit investigative news organization, filed a Freedom of Information request for emails between NSA staff and a film crew working on a TV documentary on the superspy agency. NSA’s response? We don’t have the technology to do that. The system is “a little antiquated and archaic,” a spokeswoman said. Forget for a moment that this is borderline preposterous. If in fact true, a detailed explanation is decidedly merited. Financial services firms, among others, routinely search companywide email systems in response to subpoenas. If the NSA can’t do the same, it needs to explain why. Or maybe that’s classified.

Is Anthony Weiner Hot-Dogging for Public Office?

anthony weiner 3001 Is Anthony Weiner Hot Dogging for Public Office?

The PR Verdict: “A” (PR Perfect) for Anthony Weiner and his image rebuild.

Whatever happened to Anthony Weiner, the former congressman from Queens? Weiner resigned at a farewell press conference in 2011 after he was caught sending photos of his own wiener to six women, none of whom were his wife. The press went crazy and resignation swiftly followed. After something like that, how do you rebuild a reputation?

Judging by the recent interview he gave to People magazine, Weiner is getting good PR advice. People covered his recent interview with three full pages, complete with pictures of his baby, adoring wife Huma Abedin, and the headline “I Feel Like a Different Person.”

The article ticks all the right PR boxes: Yes, he regrets the incident; yes, he has sought counseling (sigh of predictability); and yes, his marriage is stronger than ever. He talks about how he let people down and would still love (possibly) to return to public office. Add in an endorsement from a political strategist who says, “[Weiner] worked hard when in office and can rebuild his life,” and have his loving wife show her support by saying that Anthony is trying to be the best husband and father “he can possibly be.” Finally, downgrade photos that were previously  called ‘lewd” and “creepy” during the height of the scandal to the more playful adjective “naughty.” Done! The stage is set for a political comeback.

The PR Verdict: “A”  (PR Perfect) for Anthony Weiner and his image rebuild. Nicely done.

The PR Takeaway: Slow and steady wins the race. In PR remakes, the best course of action is to take tentative baby steps and gauge reactions. As Weiner himself says, “I’m still trying to work out where I am in the public consciousness.” For the moment, stay away from political controversy and stick to self-improvement. Wieners (the type besides the congressman and the hot dog) have gotten all sorts of famous men in trouble, Elliott Spitzer and Bill Clinton, to name two. This Weiner’s PR recovery is just beginning.

Can Anthony Weiner return to public office after this public scandal? Give us your PR Verdict!