Would you survive a scandal?

scandal trump hillary

With the scandals surrounding the current US president it’s interesting to look at what US politicians in the past have done  Watch Richard L. Berke of The New York Times talk about what happened to Bill Clinton, Gary Hart, Newt Gingrich and others:

The video speaks for itself and is entertaining as well. For almost 30 years Richard has observed how different US politicians managed to handle scandals and get back in the saddle again. The video is not brand new but what Richard L. Berke has to say still stands.

Is it really as simple as just being visible and pretend it never happened? Bill Clinton got re-elected by doing so.

After watching the video do you think you could survive a scandal? If so, how would you do it? What’s the best recipe for getting back in favour? Would you manage to get on with life as if the scandal had never happened? Do you have the poker face and self confidence it takes? What could the politicians in the video have done better? Is it positive that people are forgiven for past sins and can get on with life? Or do you believe someone who has sinned should be punished for the rest of their life?

Video: TheNewYorkTimes – Picture: Oli Goldsmith

68 thoughts on “Would you survive a scandal?

  1. I understand our Politian's are human, with the same frailties as all of us. But, I think the best way to survive a scandal is not to get into one in the first place. Many people work on scandal and PR spin, without working on the moral change needed not to need them.

    1. Without a doubt. But let's forget about politicians for a moment. What if a hacker used your name and details and created a scandal that was prominently featured in the media. That could, potentially happen to anyone.

  2. Catarina — I'm not important enough to worry about my reputation if I were involved in a public scandal! And at my age, I don't worry about those things any more!

  3. Catarina, the best way to survive a scandal is to ignore it. Pretty soon something more interesting comes along for the media to grab on to.

      1. I have. There was a completely erroneous and negative report in the newspaper about the charity I worked for. I was ready to go the newspaper office and tell them what I thought of them for such sleazy reporting. My chairman said to let it be. I did and within a couple of days it was forgotten.

  4. I have never been involved in a scandal. I would struggle to show my face and look people in the eye.

    Everyone makes mistakes (some far worse than others) and unfortunately you are highly exposed when in the public eye. Every move you make is scrutinised. You have to accept this fact before you move into the position.

  5. I am such a private person, i definitely wouldn’t do something to put me in the public spotlight intentionally. We will never know or understand why people do some of the stupid things that land them in the headlines. Poor decision making, lack of self control, combination of both? If it is all about the job they can do, wouldn’t those same qualities affect their ability to do their job? I would think so. It would definitely come to mind and would make a difference in my voting.

  6. Very interesting question, Catarina. I've never been involved in a scandal, but on 2 occasions in my lifetime, things were said/perceived about me that were not true, and it made me realize how important it is to NEVER judge someone unless you emphatically know the information to be true and accurate. It is much harder to dispel accusations and untrue allegations than it is condemn someone. In both situations I allude to above, I chose to operate outside the circles of the 2 individuals involved as their power/perceived power made it unworthy of the energy it would require to pursue in dispelling the untruth.
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  7. Your reputation is the one thing that you have control over. Its one thing about surviving a scandal, it is another when you had created it.
    I think we accept the flaws of others too quickly, because we know the flaws in ourselves. I think we, politicians, athletes and celebrities too, should not create the scandals in the first place.
    Even if one is made up, or attacking you, if you did not do it, then the truth will come out.

    1. What you have control over William is how you behave and what you do. Online however, anyone can crucify you if they want. Could be an angry customer, reader of whatever. If they manage to get really negative information about you published on social media, in the media and so forth you have a problem. Yes the truth will come out if you get involved in a scandal that you were not guilty of. Famous people should start thinking with their heads. They know that in today's world they are bound to be found out.

  8. Catarina, my charity once was involved in a scandal based on false information. I was really upset about it and ready to take on the media. my chairman told me to ignore it and it would go away within three days – he was right. Now I know that wasn't on the same level as the above but it does show that the less you say, the faster it goes away.

  9. I don't know whether I could survive a scandal or not, but I do know that if I was holding an elected office or running for one I wouldn't be soliciting prostitutes or sexting pictures of my private parts.

  10. I understand what others have done to overcome a scandal, just not sure I'd be very good at it myself since I tend to be pretty transparent. Someone once told me it was like what I was thinking was playing across my forehead like the news trending that scrolls across the top on a news website. We can prepare for challenges, but I wonder if we can ever really know how we will react to things like this, or any type of crisis, until we find ourselves in that position. Wouldn't it be nice if we all had PR teams we could rely on – just in case? 🙂
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  11. Maybe I’m desensitized to scandals because I work in and around politics, but unless there is serious social/personal harm done, I think most people can and should move past the indiscretion. Humans make mistakes all the time, most of us are just lucky not to get dragged into the limelight when we misstep.

  12. I hope I am never in that position. People make mistakes, some regret it whilst others have no remorse. In my opinion acting as if nothing ever took place is deceitful and also discounts the persons involved.

    I guess it is not in a politicians best interest to admit to wrong doing, particularly if it is an affair.

    People can and should be forgiven but they should also face the consequences as a result of their actions.

    1. Sure, but anyone can bet involved in a scandal by being at the wrong place at the wrong time. For instance if you happened to be somewhere and a person is murdered there shortly after you leave. The police find you and the media starts hounding you. What would you do?

  13. Interesting questions. I think your question, “do you think you could survive a scandal? If so, how would you do it?” should be something every politician should ask themselves before running.

    I wonder if citizens are more willing to forgive and forget scandals when the economy is good. Something to think about. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Absolutely, but what would you do. Anyone can become involved in a scandal for any reason. Without wanting to you could for instance by mistake hit a pedestrian who dies. Media will hound you and you have to know what to say. If not they will crucify you.

    2. I am more of a private person so I would probably release a statement to the media about the situation after thinking about what happened and hope it blows over.

  14. Catarina, in the USA, it seems to me there are some politicians who are as they once called some of the mafia: teflon. Their scandals repeat themselves! Makes me absolutely sick.

    But, if by survive you mean get over it and move on, yes, I am pretty sure I would. I recall one potential scandal in my business career and indeed as the expression goes, "this too will pass." It did. And I am fine. It was a roller coaster ride between me and the accusers, but eventually, all moved on.

    1. Glad you survived that "scandal", Patricia. In Europe what becomes a scandal for US politicians is largely ignored because the US is much more puritanical when it comes to that kind of thing. It's frequent that politicians on a high level get divorced or have mistresses, not least in France.

  15. I don’t think I could show my face in public if I were foolish enough to get involved in a scandal. I do think that people are far too interested in the private lives of people who are in the public eye. Generally, politicians have much thicker skins than the average person and will do whatever it takes to survive.

    1. Yes, politicians normally have thicker skins, Beth. But when it comes to business scandals you could get involved in one without doing anything foolish. You could suddenly be contacted by media and told you had, for instance, helped a woman who turned out to be a fraudster set up a business. They would then start asking you if you taught her how to swindle people and so forth. Unfortunately you would have no choice but to tell your side of the story to the journalist or be crucified in media. Am sure you would find a way.

  16. Catarina,
    Yes you are seeing scandals but what about the sandals we don't hear about that are going on everyday. However, Politicians think they are about the law and can get away with anything. They can as the American people have short term memories. In fact sometimes it even boost their visibility. At the moment we think, how could they do that and later it doesn't become that important as most of us move on with our lives.

    I don't think I would survive a scandal as I have a conscience. I care about my reputation and not to be native I really don't think I would ever be put in that position to even have to worry about it.

    It must be newsworthy to countries outside of the US. There are many times I think what does the world think of our politicians and celebrities that are always in the news, but I am sure it happens all over the world, but more countries are interesting in what the United States is doing.
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  17. I'm not so sure that people such as the politicians referenced above are forgiven for past sins so much as the general public has a short memory. Reactions to scandals are definitely of a fickle nature and it's hard to predict from one to the next what the reaction would be. Personally, I would like to think I would survive a scandal because I like to live my life as if I have nothing to hide. When something questionable comes up, I've never averted being proactive in my response to the situation. I am who I am. Take it or leave it.
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    1. What you mention about the general public having a short memory is true, Jeri. Almost said thank God for that since when it comes to infidelity the majority of human beings are guilty of it. They just don't end up in the papers. The general public should not have short memory however when it comes to corruption. That's much worse.

  18. I was accused of something scandalous once & had a really hard time with it; I wasn't guilty, but the fact that I was so embarrassed by the accusations made it hard for me to even try to defend myself. I did end up just ignoring it, but it was a long couple of months before people "forgot."

    1. True, Cheryl. But for a normal person a scandal doesn't become a nationwide or global issue. Unless a person is famous, who cares about infidelity? And the unfaithful normal person will not find the press in his garden when he wakes up.

    1. Agree with you Susan. Maybe women in the public eye are more careful? But then again if you look at celebrities women are frequently involved in scandals. But there is a difference between being in the entertainment business and politics:-)

  19. I don’t think many would survive a scandal. If you’e in the limelight and something like this occurs, you’ll need a militia to get through it. I wouldn’t make fault in geting myself into any possibility of a scandal if I can avoid it. Great post yet again!

  20. It would be unpleasant and it would require some tolerance from those closest, but I've seen so many people reclaim their reputations and in fact receive accolades after a scandal that I can't imagine letting my life be ruined by an indiscretion. I think most things go on because people drag them out.

    If I had to advise a client it would come down to confession (admit it if you did it), contrition (say your sorry), calm (don't feed the frenzy, be available but not confrontational) and courting (come back into public gradually and appropriately).

    The nature of the scandal would dictate how you implemented the stages, but most scandals are made up of things that are none of the public's business in the first place. Unless they are a pedophile, who a politician chooses to have sex with is not interesting to me.
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    1. Agree with what you say Debra. In the United States it also seems to work for them to say that they have found God and hence understand the importance of their family. Then they are often forgiven:-)

  21. To forget about a scandal in the way politicians seem to do needs enormous 'chutzpah' – or a very thick skin (and not just your own, but those around you). Unfortunately, politicians around the world seem to be blessed with both…

  22. The closest I got to a scandal was in one of my years as a sales manager. You don't need the details of it but let's just say – I did survive some awful attacks. It was a process, sort of like the process a person goes through when someone they love has died. Not the SAME process but a process none the less.

    Having said I survived doesn't mean that I would survive a scandal, only that I believe I have similar skills that I could recall if necessary – hahaha – through hypnosis likely, to help me navigate the situation.
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  23. I'm very unforgiving. I thought Bill Clinton should have resigned. It wasn't the sex thing as much as the sex thing in the White House and then lying about it. God bless, Hillary. If he were my husband, he would have found his stuff on the White House lawn . I'm not just unforgiving vis a vis other people's disgraces. I don't think I would survive my own scandal. I'd be too ashamed to want to be a public figure. It's the politicians who are social conservatives for everybody else, but cavort with prostitutes and force their girl friends to have abortions who really send me over the edge.
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    1. Thank you for giving us your thoughts, Suzanne. It's interesting isn't it that in many other countries it is no big deal if politicians are unfaithful. The double standards in your country are lamentable. Maybe it would be better if there was a bit more tolerance when it comes to having affairs? Plenty of Americans have affairs but don't tolerate it if when your politicians are unfaithful.

    1. You have to have really thick skin to get through a scandal, Cassi. Obvioulsy that's not the case with you. Isn't it worse when politicians are taking kick-backs? There are politicians in all Western countries that are paid by people smugglers to look the other way and facilitate bringing human beings into the countries.

      1. Kick-backs are also bad but I don't know which would be worse. Add to that the other skeletons in their closets and failure to fulfill campaign promises.

        1. OK, Cassi. But it's not only politicians that have skeletons in their closets. However saying whatever it takes to get elected is something that politicians all over the world are guilty of. But it's up to us, the voters, to punish them for that.

  24. The thing about scandals that bother me is that the only thing that makes them "scandals" is that they are famous people doing them. After all these are actions that people do all over the world. The only reason they seem to be blown out of proportion is that these people are famous. If your neighbor where to do the same thing would they have paparazzi at their doorstep? Likely not. Infidelity, theft, embezzlement, murder, racial slurs are all common indiscretions (unfortunately). But it only becomes a scandal when its someone famous doing them. The key to surviving them is to be honest that you made a mistake and show the world that you are a better person, and more person, than that one action.
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    1. The reason for that is because ordinary people love to read about famous people having problems, Bravo. A celebrity having problems sells newspapers like nothing else. By the way, murder isn't a common indiscretion. But the headlines make you think it is.

    1. Yes Berlusconi got away with it for a long time, Safae. But he has just been sentenced for sex with an underage girl:-) Anyway, would you, Safae, survive a scandal?

  25. Catarina — it embarrasses me as an American to see all these politicians and their sex scandals. However, it's certainly not exclusive to our country. Politicians everywhere seems to think they're invincible and can get away with these things.

    In my great city of New York we have Eliot Spitzer, who was governor when he was frequently a house of prostitution, and Anthony Weiner who sent salacious pictures of himself to women on Twitter, running for office. Can't we find any more viable candidates in a city of 8 million!? As comedian Woody Allen stated, "Eighty percent of success is showing up." That's what Richard Berke said in so many words. You've got to be visible. So I guess that's the secret of surviving a scandal.
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    1. Jeannette, having a mistress is not such a big deal in many parts of the world. Look at Sarkozy in France. He got divorced and married Carla Bruni when he was president.

      Agree that being visible and treat it like it was no big deal must be the key to getting back in the saddle again after a scandal. Having said that friends of mine who are well known don't find it amusing when they wake up to press photographers in their garden. It's easier said than done. You have to have really thick skin and a poker face. Or be married to Hillary Clinton.

  26. No I wouldn't survive a scandal, it will live with me.
    I am not a politician. I will admit what ever happens and go on with life.

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