Hillary Rodham Clinton’s personal email fiasco has reached the point where her own advisors and some of her key supporters are urging her to come clean.
A group of New York Times reporters interviewed more than 75 key Democrats about the presidential frontrunner’s failure to handle the crisis over her private versus State Department emails. Some even went as far as suggesting — imagine — that she apologize.
The key measure of a badly handled crisis is that it persists. It continues on because the person or business or organization involved fails to answer all the questions that need to be answered. The best way to combat this is to answer all the questions before they’re asked.
So far, Clinton has only compounded her folly by dancing around the facts. Now even her friends are telling her it’s not good enough.
Consider this comment in the Times’ story:
Rosalind Wyman, a veteran Democratic national committeewoman from California who is also a Clinton supporter, said Mrs. Clinton had not shown enough urgency in battling questions about her judgment, and complained that the campaign’s responses to the controversy — and the federal inquiries that have followed — were becoming only more muddled.
“The only thing Hillary can do, I think, is get out there in front of reporters and take five hours of questions — if that’s what it takes — until people understand her, at least, and hopefully believe her,” Ms. Wyman said. “And we have to have people who are talented, independent experts on classified secrets defending her on television, rather than who we have now.”
The sharks are swimming nearby and they’re not only Republicans. When the early campaign began, Clinton was the acclaimed frontrunner and nominee to be. Now Vice President Joe Biden is likely to enter the race, something he would never have done six months ago. Only now that Clinton is wounded and refusing to pay attention to those wounds is he likely to join the race.
She needs to do all the things these advisors told the newspaper.
“They’ve handled the email issue poorly, maybe atrociously, certainly horribly,” said Edward G. Rendell, a former governor of Pennsylvania and a supporter of Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy. “The campaign has been incredibly tone-deaf, not seeing this as a more serious issue. She should have turned over the email server at the start, because they should have known they’d be forced to give it up. But at this point, there’s nothing they can do to kill the issue — they’re left just playing defense.”
There is actually much they can do. Stand up, deliver the facts, take responsibility, accept your penalty, apologize and get it behind you.
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.