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20 years

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Plausible...Or Implausible?...Deniability

Under fire from many quarters since President-elect Obama selected him to deliver the Inaugural Day sermon, the noted Evangelical Rev. Rick Warren has just removed anti-gay language from his Saddleback Church website.

This move comes a few days after his speech in Long Beach, CA to a Muslim convention in which he stressed his open-mindedness: "As-salaam alaikum....Let me just get this over real quickly. I love Muslims. (applause) And, for the media's purpose, I happen to love gays and straights."

Kind of reminds me in style and tone of another sound bite from another recent highly-publicized appearance, the first press conference by embattled Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich in which he strode the podium and started off: "I'm here to tell you right off the bat that I am not guilty of any criminal wrongdoing. I intend to stay on the job and I will fight this thing every step of the way. I will fight. I will fight. I will fight until I take my last breath. I have done nothing wrong."

Seems to us at CommCore Consulting Group that both Warren and Blagojevich - different men in the spotlight under very different circumstances - have resorted to the same kind of communication by denial: If I make my point quickly and emphatically enough, the operative sound bite will erase prior history. In Warren's case it's a documented litany of intolerant pronouncements; in the governor's case it's the tapes of him touting how he's willing to sell Obama's senate seat to the highest bidder.

What's your take on crisis response by strident sound bite when the operative quote contradicts documented statements and actions? Does passionate, dramatic knee-jerk denial work in today's short attention span media environment? Do these blasts ever signal a change of thinking or genuine softening of polarizing views? Or will such sound bites come back to haunt he, or she, who utters them?

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