By Geoffrey Stackhouse, Managing Director, Clarity Solutions
Jeffrey Toobin, lawyer and top political commentator, has pulled off a remarkable feat. Only seven months after a potentially career ending humiliation, where he was caught masturbating on an important Zoom call with his colleagues at The New Yorker, he has returned to work as a credible political commentator.
His latest CNN interview is a masterstroke in how to stage-manage your return to the public eye and rehabilitate your reputation.
In case you missed the original incident, you can read my coverage of it here. I was critical of his faux apology (“I’m sorry I got caught”) and suggested a road map for him to return to the public eye.
Maybe he was reading the blog, but it looks like he followed our proposed playbook. We suggested he:
1. Offer a detailed apology naming the offence and showing he gets it.
2. Stage a TV interview including a teary confession & promise to undertake a lengthy spell in rehab as penance.
3. Fly under the radar for at least 12 months
His CNN rehab interview was brilliantly orchestrated and while it didn’t exactly follow our suggested script, it worked even better.
It’s important to bear in mind who Toobin had to persuade. My research suggests men didn’t blame him, they felt sorry for him. But female viewers were outraged – particularly if it was deliberate and therefore sexual harassment.
Despite being carefully curated, it was breathtakingly ‘authentic’, one of the best I’ve ever seen, certainly Oscar worthy. Here’s what worked:
And this is the best part. Somehow, he summarised the huge public backlash into criticism by the likes of OJ Simpson, who was of such low character he was proud to have him as an enemy.
Innocent Victim status restored.
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