50 Shades of Ghomeshi
For the last three days the biggest water cooler topic across the country has been CBC’s firing of Jian Ghomeshi.
Ghomeshi‘s $55-million lawsuit and the numerous allegations about Ghomeshi’s violent sexual behavior, lead many to conclude that he will never work in the media again. Most people are wondering: “Who would hire him?”
While the CBC won’t take Ghomeshi back (ever), I expect he’ll have little problem bouncing back in his successful media career. Here’s why:
Many talented film, sports and media stars have had similar moments of “heightened awareness,” about their abnormal or illegal sexual behavior, yet most have gone on with their careers. I don’t recall Roman Polanski or Woody Allen making apologies for their disturbing sexual relationships. The revelations resulted in a loss of fans, but both continued with their successful careers as film directors.
In 2009 David Letterman issued a preemptive strike to a breaking scandal by using his national talk show to drop a five-minute bombshell in his monologue. He used the platform to talk about his affair with a coworker only six months after he was married. His show and contract with CBS continued like nothing happened and his marriage is still intact.
Ghomeshi’s incident is reminiscent of the Marv Albert scandal in 1997. Albert had charges filed against him for viciously biting and having forced sex with a woman he’d had a relationship with for several years. Marv was a very big personality in the USA at the time. He’d appeared on “Late Night with David Letterman” over 100 times with his presentation of the plays of the month. And he’d been the play-by-play voice of the New York Knicks basketball team for 30 years leading up to this incident and had done national broadcasts for Super Bowls, Stanley Cup finals and basketball finals.
Albert lost all his jobs and contracts at the time. His lawyers and PR advisors recommended he take a six-month long ‘time out’. After the court case and Marv Albert’s guilty plea, he did a series of high-profile media appearances. In a one week blitz he appeared on Larry King on CNN, David Letterman on CBS, Katie Couric on NBC’s ”The Today Show” and “20/20” with Barbara Walters on ABC.
The PR strategy was for Marv to tell his story fully and quickly. He overexposed himself for a week. Being an experienced media veteran, he was sympathetic and got a passing grade in the court of public opinion. He then stopped the interviews.
At 74 years old, Marv Albert is still active today, calling NBA and NFL games on American TV networks and he is a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame.
We are still in week one of a drama that hasn’t fully played out. Ghomeshi issued his preemptive strike online. He should now take a ‘time out’ and let the story fade.
Will another Canadian network provide him with a similar platform as the CBC’s? Will he get a gig with NPR who aired Q in US markets? I think he’ll land somewhere. He’s a talented broadcaster with a loyal following. He’ll be back.