In the old days, they used to say that the cover up was always worse than the crime. So manageable legal problems, say Watergate or Enron, became criminal disasters because of attempts to hide or lie about evidence.
Lately, it looks like it is bad PR that has become a bigger sin than the original misdemeanour.
The obvious example is Prince Andrew’s car-crash interview with the BBC. Large chunks of the coverage today centred not on the interview itself, not on whether he had actually done anything wrong, but on whether it was wise to talk to Emily Maitlis in the first place.
Everyone’s a PR expert now.
A daft idea for an arrogant, not very bright, man, offered Dickie Arbiter in The Telegraph. “Nuclear explosion level bad” said the Washington Post.
So as containment strategies go, perhaps this wasn’t a complete success. It is surely only a matter of time before the Andrew Affair is a full feature length production with Michael Sheen playing Prince Andrew and Emily Maitlis insisting on playing herself.
Should flaks advise CEOs in a similarly tight spot to take to the airwaves to put their case? Perhaps the answer is: Not if your CEO is as much of a clutz as Prince Andrew.