Hillary Clinton apologizes, her credibility dashed, 200 days after she should have


Hillary Clinton said she’s sorry. You know, for that email thing.

Finally. Twenty-eight weeks after she should have.

A March 2, 2015 New York Times article broke the story that Clinton had used her own private email server rather than a government-issued one throughout her time as U.S. Secretary of State, and that her aides took no action to preserve emails sent or received from her personal accounts as required by law, according to Wikipedia.

Today she fully apologized. After denying there was a problem. After pretending what she did was OK. After saying nothing classified was in her personal emails. After realizing her presidential nomination could be jeopardized. And, sadly, after her campaign ran focus groups on the impact.

It’s almost silly how clear it was in March that she needed to stand up, take responsibility, explain her thinking, accept her mistakes, say she was sorry. Now, seven months of damage later, she finally does what she obviously should have long ago.

“That was a mistake. I’m sorry about that. I take responsibility,” Mrs. Clinton said in an interview with David Muir of ABC News broadcast Tuesday night. “And I’m trying to be as transparent as I possibly can.”

Everything seems forced and staged. The Times reported yesterday that her staff said she would become funnier and more natural on the campaign trail. Really? Why do campaign officials say such stupid things? Why not just let her go out and be less forced and funnier? Then let the media report that. It’s like focus groups could vote.

This email crisis has been mucked up from the start. She’s been on the defensive. She even tried at one point to pretend that she thought wiping a server clean meant dusting the outside of the tower. And her original news conference March 10, billed as her coming clean and answering all questions, is now a case study on how not to handle a crisis.

Even she didn’t believe what she said.

Crisis managers will tell you: The truth has a way of bubbling to the surface. It may take weeks, months or years, but the truth rarely stays hidden. With that as a foundational realization, leaders must realize that if there is bad news to share, that they be the ones to share it, and release all of it at once. Take your hits, pay your fines, move on.

After 200 days of pretending she did nothing wrong, Clinton finally owned up to her mistakes.

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.

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About steveoncrisis

The content is about crisis management and mismanagement in a digital age. It comes from Steve Bell, who spent 30 years as a journalist for the Associated Press and as managing editor and editorial page editor at The Buffalo News. He is now Partner/Director of Public Affairs at Eric Mower and Associates, one of the nation's largest independent advertising, integrated marketing and public relations agency with six offices in the Northeast and Southeast.
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