Gayle King, Apologies, And 3 Ways To Deal With Public Backlash…

In Personal Branding
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Gayle King did an interview with retired WNBA player Lisa Leslie last week. I didn’t notice the interview. I wouldn’t have cared nor watched it if you’d told me about it. 

What made the interview become news (to everyone who’s not a Gayle King or Lisa Leslie fanatic) was a specific segment clip that began to pick up steam. 

Gayle asked Leslie about Kobe Bryant’s sexual assault charge from 2003 (which was dropped when the alleged victim refused to testify in court — Kobe settled a civil case out of court and issued a public apology to his accuser). 

If you let “woke” social media tell it, Gayle pushed too hard on that specific topic at a time when the emotional wounds from

Kobe’s death are still fresh. 

Some famous rappers jumped on Instagram and attacked Gayle and her best friend Oprah Winfrey (guilty by association, apparently) for their attack on Kobe’s legacy. 

You can google and read about the rest if you are so inclined. I’m not making an argument for either side of… whatever you want to call this. 

What I’ve noticed is this: since we have digital “receipts” of everything anyone has said or done for the past ~10 years now, if you’re a well-known person, it’s only a matter of time before the Social Media Comment Mob finds something you said or did to be mad about. 

If I became world-famous tomorrow, I’d have 40-50 things that some group could start an angry hashtag about. 

With all of us knowing this, we have three choices. 

1) Go back and delete anything that could possibly be offensive. 

I don’t like this option; it’s too much work, and it’s  cowardly. Besides, if what you said was egregious enough, someone has probably already screen-shotted it anyway. Trying to delete now it only adds fuel to the fire. 

2) Wait for the online fury to find you, and apologize to anyone who may be bothered by your past statement / tweet / action. 

Not a fan of this option either, since from the cases of this that I’ve seen, the famous person is just trying to protect their fame and business rather than having actual remorse for anything. 

It’s a show. It’s fake. 

Nobody believes you, anyway. Allowing an outrage mob to push you back on your heels and force an apology that you don’t really mean only gives them more ammunition. 

Any form of apology from Gayle King will just give the attackers more energy. 

If you don’t really mean it, don’t apologize. What’s option 3? 

3) Stand on what you did, as it was what you felt like saying/doing at the time. Whoever is offended (or claiming to be) will soon get over it. 

Maybe your perspective has changed since that tweet from seven years ago. Maybe you can look back and admit that you don’t like the way you worded a question three months ago. 

BUT… fuck it. 

It felt right at that time, and saying that you’ve changed your mind about it now doesn’t undo what happened back then. 

Shit, you may not want to undo what happened back then. Maybe those actions and statements worked for you at the time, and perhaps you wouldn’t be where you are now had it not been for those choices. 

We all have past actions that we could say that about. Most people are just too afraid of (possible) backlash to admit it. 

There is a famous man who’s had plenty of his past dug up and thrown in his face. He’s taken option #3 — “fuck it” — all the way to the White House. 

There is a famous man who’s had plenty of his past dug up and thrown in his face. He’s taken option #3 — “fuck it” — all the way to the White House.  Click To Tweet

This is the most genuine way to respond. It’s also the most difficult, the least-often chosen option, and one that I would be very interested to see someone use. 

(Actually, many people have used this — it just doesn’t become a big story, because there’s nothing to push back against when a person refuses to back down and apologize. The outage just melts away.) 

***

Being the first to break news or to get something trending is a business in itself today. 

“News” doesn’t need to have value or substance. It only needs to grab attention, touch on an emotional or two, and be NEW. Substance and usefulness are secondary. 

“News” doesn’t need to have value or substance. It only needs to grab attention, touch on an emotional or two, and be NEW. Substance and usefulness are secondary.  Click To Tweet

If you ever find yourself on the wrong end of the current news, the simplest response would be to relax and let the storm pass — there will be a new story replacing yours in less than 24 hours. 

If you want to engage, though, do like Trump and Kim Kardashian did and lean into the scandal. Embrace that past action and ride that wave as far as it’ll take you. 

Humans are attracted to authenticity, even authenticity that we disagree with. Eventually people will come to accept your past, and you, as you are. 

Humans are attracted to authenticity, even authenticity that we disagree with. Click To Tweet

What if it were YOU who had an old (or recent) tweet or email or video surface, and were being widely attacked for it, even by famous people — how would you respond? Reply and let me know — I read all responses. 

Consume these MasterClasses that I’ve done on standing your ground, dismissing the idiots, and embracing authenticity: 

#205: Staying Authentic In Your Brand Message

#1239: What People Crave From Your Brand: AUTHENTICITY

#877: I Owe You An Apology

#576: No Apology, No Complaint

#1168: How To Ignore The Talk When It’s Time To Perform

#933: How To Ignore The Clowns

#901: How To Ignore The Spectators

#815: When To Ignore People’s Advice And Go Your Own Way

#87: When To Listen & When To Ignore

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