Hillary Clinton knew at her news conference about her email practices while Secretary of State that her explanations were thin and faulty.
You could see it in her lack of eye contact, defensive body language and weak answers to questions. She had no more confidence in what she was saying March 10 than the media did listening.
Her crisis will persist until she fully answers all the questions, takes responsibility for any wrongdoing and fully explains her motivation to the American public.
The latest indications that this crisis still rages is growing talk that Vice President Joe Biden could enter the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. Only a wounded Clinton would have to endure such an affront. Polls show her negatives soaring.
And, The Washington Post reported today that the FBI is looking into the security of Clinton’s private e-mail setup.
A key to managing a crisis is not looking at the original spark, even if that’s major. It’s about the duration. A successfully managed crisis goes away in a couple of days. Poorly managed ones persist for weeks and months. Clinton, who obviously has access to the best crisis managers, clearly is not listening to any of them.
It doesn’t matter what she’s hiding — unless she broke the law, in which case she’s going down sooner or later anyway. That too will come out.
But if she did nothing worse than bend a few rules, she ought to come out and say that, take her hits all at once, and get this behind her. Her efforts to date are faltering and ineffective — and that prolongs the crisis.
She’s a smart woman, bordering on brilliant. She wants to be president. This is a relatively minor speed bump in the race to the Democratic nomination. Sweep it away. Tell the truth. Admit to arrogance. Admit to hubris. Take responsibility for following dumb advice. But just do it.
Surely she’s been buffeted by a great many “scandals” in her political life, some legitimate, others not so much. Maybe that’s made her defensive; maybe all she knows is how to fight back.
That only compounds the mess and her dilemma. Step up, take responsibility, accept whatever sanctions may come her way, and end this.
The content of this blog is about crisis management and mismanagement in a digital age. It originates with Steve Bell, who spent 30 years as a journalist for the Associated Press and in four top editor positions at The Buffalo News. He is now Partner/Director of Public Affairs and Crisis and Reputation Management at Eric Mower + Associates, one of the nation’s largest independent advertising, integrated marketing and public relations agencies, with eight offices in the East. Learn more about EMA at mowerpr.com/crisisready. Steve’s blog is based on his own opinions and does not represent the views or positions of Eric Mower + Associates.