Intro and Lit. Review


Preparation is one of the many necessities to crisis management and image repair plans. Without a good communication plan, elements of operations implode, stakeholders are left out of the loop, organizations appear inept and the length of time to bring full resolution to matters is extended dramatically.


In May 2011, news began circulating of questionable scandalous photos sent via Twitter by Congressman Anthony Weiner. In an attempt to maintain his position as a New York City congressman, Weiner denied the claims and blamed online hackers for the racy photos. As more evidence was unveiled, however, Weiner was forced to admit to his actions and eventually resigned from Congress. “I am announcing my resignation from Congress so my colleagues can get back to work, my neighbors can choose a new representative and most important so that my wife and I can continue to heal from the damage I have…

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Lit. Review for Anthony Weiner

My section of the work will primarily deal with our literature review. I was excited to have a good range of politicians to study as examples of case studies. Since Anthony Weiner’s sexting scandal, lewdness, and haughty behavior in media and with constituents have somewhat recently been exposed, this will give us ample material to work with and define what kind of image repair strategy would work best in his situation.

Luckily, we have a plethora of politicians to study as a framework for Weiner’s actions. Looking at politicians whose scandals came out within the last decade allows us to study which image repair tactic works best in each scenrio. Our five politicians are: Mark Sanford, Bill Clinton, Eliot Spitzer, John Edwards, and Bob Filner. Clinton, Spitzer, and Edwards are the most closely related to Weiner in terms of what they did-all had extramarital affairs that were denied until they were exposed, and the situation got a lot worse before it got better.

One of the scholarly journals I looked at focuses specifically on Bill Clinton and how the apology (or corrective image repair technique) can be effective if delivered in stages:

  1. The strategic potential of sequencing stases: President Clinton’s self-defense in the Monica Lewinsky scandal (Michael Kramer and Kathryn Olson, 2002)
    1. Proposes the idea that a progressive apologia that maintains options and shifts systematically among stases as the case gradually unfolds.
    2. Featuring the stases in a particular progressive order (fact; then jurisdiction and definition; then finally quality), while maintaining just enough ambiguity in each stage to preserve the legitimacy and viability of the other stases, can explain Clinton’s success.

Another of the journals I thought would be especially useful in our study of Anthony Weiner was one about apologies being used abundantly in image repair and the art of giving the apology:

  1. Saying Sorry: The Politics of Apology (Michael Cunningham, 2002)
    1. Makes arguments for and against the use of an apology citing several cases of individuals and organizations.
    2. Gives a general reflection on why this type of image repair (apology) has been used so much in the last 15 years.

My other journals relate to how journalists’ posing of questions can significantly help or hinder image repair work, Benoit’s image restoration theory, and a factorial experiment that tests points of communication strategy and whether each method was successful in terms of the way it was employed.

  • Our research will address the following questions in relation to Anthony Weiner’s sexting scandal, general lewdness, and haughty behavior:
    • Did Weiner’s sexting scandal ultimately make him lose the trust of his constituents and therefore lose the New York City mayoral race? Or were there more factors in his loss? To what extent did his sexting come into play in the mayoral race during the election period and scandal height?
    • Was Weiner’s apologetic press conference viewed with sympathy or disdain? Seeing as it was not the first time he has had to apologize for similar behavior, did this press conference (and other image repair techniques) really help to better his image?
    • What generalizations can be made for politicians’ sex scandals and their image repair? Is there a certain image repair strategy that seems to work best?
    • In lieu of image repair strategies done by politicians in similar situations, what is the recommended course of action for Anthony Weiner?


Hopefully, Anthony Weiner will be acting a lot more like this- a positive, happy family man!


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Literature Review

By: Kelli Betner

Literature Review

Benoit’s Theory of Image Restoration

Of all of the studies that use the theory of image restoration to analyze crisis strategies, Benoit’s model is probably the most thorough and comprehensive. The theory of image restoration discourse is designed with two communication assumptions in mind: that communication is both a goal- directed activity and that it is critical for maintaining a positive reputation (Benoit, 1995). If an individual or organization is held responsible for an act that is considered offensive or reprehensible, his reputation is at risk (Benoit, 1997b). The theory of image restoration discourse “focuses on message options” (Benoit, 1997). Benoit (1995) acknowledges his exclusion of strategies such as silence or ignoring accusations in favor of more proactive approaches to image repair.

1. Tonya Harding  (Benoir & Hanczor, 1994)

The first image repair that we will look at is that of Tonya Harding. Tonya Harding’s need for an image repair came in January 1994 after she attacked fellow figure skater Nancy Kerrigan (Benoit & Hanczor, 1994). The man directly responsible, Shawn Eckardt, was Harding’s bodyguard, and Steve Gillooly, Harding’s ex-husband, was implicated as well. Both men identified Harding as a co-conspirator. Harding appeared on television February 10, 1994 and used bolstering, denial, attack of accuser and defeasibility (Benoit & Hanczor, 1994). Repeatedly denying wrongdoing, Harding rejected the accusations of Eckardt and Gillooly, reiterated claims that she had not violated Olympic code of conduct, and continued to assert that she had no knowledge of the attack (Benoit & Hanczor, 1994). Her strategic use of denial was weakened when she was forced to admit that she had lied in the past. As with her use of bolstering, Harding had no one to corroborate her statements of denial (Benoit & Hanczor, 1994). During the Connie Chung interview, Harding attacked her accusers (Eckardt and Gillooly) and offered two examples of defeasibility to justify her inaction (Benoit & Hanczor, 1994). Attacking her accusers and claiming defeasibility may have been more effective if Harding had engaged in mortification as well. Even the smallest expression of remorse may have strengthened her attempt at image repair (Benoit & Hanczor, 1994).

2. Terrell Owens (Brazeal, 2008)

A great example of an image repair to look at is that of Terrell Owens. In 2005, Owens ruined his own image during a contract renewal disagreement with the Philadelphia Eagles (Brazeal, 2008). Brazeal’s analysis of Owens’s image repair proposes a new example of ineffectual strategic planning. Owens and his agent Rosenhaus organized a press conference to try to convince “the coach, the Eagles organization, and the fans that he would mend his ways” (Brazeal, 2008, p.145). Owens read from a prepared statement, which employed the strategies of bolstering and mortification. He bolstered his image by highlighting his exceptional playing ability and he argued that his passion for the game led to his criticism of teammates. He emphasized his devotion to the Eagles by pointing out the difficulty of being deactivated (Brazeal, 2008). Owens apologized to fans, teammates, coaches and Eagles personnel. However, as Brazeal points out, Owens used vague language to avoid blame and made no effort to take specific corrective action. While Owens’ discourse lacked elements of a sincere apology, corrective action or any attempt at humility, his image may have still been repaired with the strategies he did employ. His decision to rely on his agent to assist in the repair of his reputation backfired.


3. Hugh Grant (Benoit, 1997a)

Hugh Grant’s image was threatened in July 1995 when he was found in his car with a 23- year-old prostitute named Devine Brown. Charged with lewd behavior, his mug shot was printed in The New York Times, and a new movie about to be released, Grant’s career was clearly in danger (Benoit, 1997a). Instead of canceling his public appearances, Grant used them as springboards to repair his damaged image. Benoit (1997a) analyzed Grant’s five talk show appearances, and found Grant used four strategies- mortification, bolstering, denial and attacking the accuser. Grant’s main strategy was to use mortification. Grant admitted his offensive behavior and made no excuses for it. He repeatedly expressed concern for his girlfriend and his family, and he indicated he was willing to accept the consequences. Grant attempted to bolster his reputation by appearing on the talk shows. Benoit (1997a) evaluates Grant as maintaining a positive, modest demeanor, creating an impression of honesty and continually expressing concern for his loved ones. Grant also used humor to bolster his image. Individuals familiar with Grant’s wit were probably put at ease by his humor. Grant’s only instance of denial was against claims he frequented topless bars, and he attacked some of the British media for their treatment of his family (Benoit, 1997a). Grant’s image repair strategy was highly effective. While the nature of the act probably influenced forgiveness, Grant’s acceptance of responsibility worked in his favor. He could have remained silent or minimized the situation with excuses, but he did not (Benoit, 1997a).

Image4. Mark McGwire (Carstairs, 2003)

Carstairs (2003) discusses four doping scandals in sports history, one of which was MLB player Mark McGwire’s use of steroids. The study cites several reasons McGwire’s use of this substance was forgiven. First, the substance was not banned in MLB and was available over the counter, meaning that it enhanced performance but was legal and safe. Second, doping in team sports does not receive as much publicity or scrutiny because individuals on a team do not make that big of a difference compared to athletes in individual sports. Third, national pride was not at stake because it was strictly a domestic matter. Fourth, this incident occurred at a unique time: MLB had just come off a player’s strike, and fans were disillusioned by it. The home-run record race between McGwire and Sammy Sosa was infusing enthusiasm into the sport again, and no doping scandal was going to interfere with that. (Carstairs, 2003) This study shows that a combination of factors may often be present that will result in little need for an elaborate reparation strategy.


5. Kobe Bryant (Kennedy, 2010)

In 2003, NBA star Kobe Bryant was charged with sexual assault. The criminal charges were dropped because the alleged victim refused to testify, and a civil suit was settled out of court. When the incident was first revealed, Bryant spoke to the Los Angeles Times, saying he would not do something like this. However, when the district attorney filed charges and cited DNA proof that Bryant had sex with the al- leged victim, Bryant immediately set up a press conference declaring he was guilty of adultery, but not of rape. Bryant’s statement included many important elements. (Kennedy, 2010) First, his wife sat by his side, showing her support. Second, he apologized and repented for committing adultery. Third, he publicly apologized to his wife. Fourth, he vehemently denied committing a crime. In addition to all of these, he chose a female defense attorney to represent him, which limited his image as a sexual predator. All of these elements combined to give a fairly convincing, heartfelt statement to the press that said Bryant was sorry for not being perfect but that he did not commit a crime. After his press conference, Bryant pretty much stayed quiet. According to sports agent Drew Rosenhaus, this was the right move. Rosenhaus believed that Bryant did the right thing in admitting he made a mistake in committing adultery and defending himself vehemently against the charges but also recommended that Bryant maintain a low profile to limit the media coverage of the situation (Kennedy, 2010). Bryant did this, and in general, the media coverage garnered by Bryant’s actions covered his talent on the basketball court, not anything he said or did regarding the trial. This study shows that taking responsibility for your actions is the best move, and can help to repair your image the fastest. 


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Paula Deen-ial

By: Rebecca Jung

Paula Deen’s case is a tricky one.

She admitted to her allegations. But, there’s underlying issues with Paula that were skimmed over by the press. For one thing, not many know that Paula had a huge battle with agoraphobia. She had been held at gunpoint by a black man, and her ex-husband has been accused of being a racist, from what I understand. Do either of these things excuse her actions? No. Do they provide background? Yes. She also mentioned both of these things in court. I think they might provide some weight for her image recovery, and for some Team Deen supporters might be reasons why they threw their support her way.

Here’s some interesting stuff about Paula that most don’t know:

If you’re like me you like for facts to be organized and presented in a logical fashion, not just thrown on a page trying to make a story. Thus, I found this gem, from E online. It’s a “Paula Deen Scandal Timeline”… Go ahead take a minute and calm down from your excitement! It’s pretty good.

In our intro section we will be discussing the Paula Scandal and breaking down what actually happens. This means we have to read ridiculously long court transcripts and wade through the Butter sea of Paula Deen case information.

Some similar cases:

Something else I would like to mention, this may or may not have any weight on her image repair, but in looking for a funny pic to post on this page I came across many meme’s that are either extremely unflattering and display Paula as a racist, or completely in her favor.  Since meme’s are so widely used in social media, this might be something worth looking into for the sake of her image. 

Bye y’all!

paula-deen-in-chinchilla-_s640x427 copy

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Lindsay Lohan Image Repair Introduction

By Kristin Kulpinski

When it comes to celebrity train wrecks, Lindsay Lohan is at the top of the list. Whether that is a result of her six stints in rehab, excessive partying or obvious alcohol addiction, Lindsay has made a name for herself as a girl who has gone off the deep end in more ways than one. The more Lindsay winds up in the court, the surprised the public becomes.

For the purposes of our study, we will focus on the incidence when Lindsay Lohan was caught stealing a necklace in 2011, as well as any image repair problems since then. This will allow us to narrow down our findings to a shorter, more recent time period, rather than gathering research from her entire downward slide as an actress.


In January of 2011, Lindsay was charged with felony grand theft for allegedly stealing a $2,500 necklace from a Venice jewelry store. According to a police report, Lindsay walked out of the store wearing the necklace after trying on several other pieces. When the owner noticed the necklace missing, he figured that Lohan had walked out with it on accident and would surely return it. However, she never returned, so he filed a report to the police (Hall, 2011).

Surveillance cameras from the store caught Lindsay on tape walking out of the shop wearing the necklace. In addition, paparazzi photos from several days later show her wearing the necklace again. Still, Lohan pleaded not guilty in court to her felony grand theft charges. Lindsay was quoted telling her friends, “It’s bulls**t. I don’t have any necklace” (Hall, 2011). However, the court convicted her and she received a 120-day sentence in jail. Due to jail overcrowding, her sentence was much shorter than originally planned (Winton, 2011). This court case came at the same time as several other legal issues for Lindsay, including her still active probation from an earlier drunk driving case, as well as an investigation for allegedly shoving an employee at the Betty Ford clinic in Riverside County the year before (Winton, 2011).


Since the necklace incident, Lohan has not taken much of an upward turn in terms of image repair. She seemed to be on her best behavior for several months following the necklace incident, but she soon relapsed into bad decision-making. In October of 2012, the police were called to the Lohan home after a fight between Lindsay and her mother over money and cocaine. No charges were filed, but the incident got some attention in the media.

2013 is most notable for Lindsay because of her release from her sixth stay in rehab. This rehabilitation program was necessary for her alcohol problem that had gone spiraling out of control early in 2013.

In an interview with Oprah that was given within a week of her release, Lindsay seemed as though she was trying to be transparent about her alcohol problem, her unhealthy relationship with her mother and her cocaine use.

Although Lindsay’s drinking hasn’t caused too much of a problem since then, she has found other ways to continue her questionable actions, including buddying up Miley Cyrus over Twitter, as well as sharing a braless photo of herself on Instagram (Webber, 2013).


Hall, K. (2011, February 10). How Lindsay Lohan Allegedly Stole The Necklace. Retrieved November 13, 2013, from

Webber, S. (2013, November 12). Lindsay Lohan Lingerie Selfie Photo: Star Goes Braless – Us Weekly. Retrieved November 13, 2013, from

Winton, R. (2011, February 10). Lindsay Lohan charged with stealing necklace from Venice jeweler – Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 13, 2013, from

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Paula Deen: Intro and Lit Review

By Latifah Adeleke


Paula Deen

Paula Deen

The crisis Paula Deen, her family and her company experienced in the summer of 2012 is a rather multi-faceted issue. Because the circumstances surrounding the actual incident are so fuzzy my partner and I will probably spend a great deal of time describing the incident in our introduction. The common belief is that Paula Deen and her younger brother had a habit of make rude, brash and racist comments to their employees and finally someone had had enough and spoke out. While this is for the most part true there are a few assumption some of us made about the situation that aren’t true like that the employee who came forward was black or of African descent when actual the employee who officially filed a complaint against Deen was indeed a white female. Her complaints also ranged from the brutal and harsh treatment of the African-American and Hispanic employees (that worked under her, as she was the general manager at one of Deen’s restaurants) as well as sexist, vulgar and demeaning treatment of herself, much of which was deliver by Deen’s younger brother and mainly only condoned by Deen. This will comprise the bulk of our intro and we will also include an overview of Deen’s previous efforts to repair her image including a public apology.

Literature Review

Since the incident with Paula Deen took place just over a year ago, their aren’t very many credible sources to use for researching the image repair of Deen. For sure we will be using material from William Benoit’s publication Accounts, excuses, apologies: A theory of image restoration discourse from 1995. We’ve already assessed that Benoit Image Restoration Theory to “Reduce offensiveness” will be the most effective approach for Deen considering the nature of this particular crisis.

I. Reduce Offensivenes (Benoit 1995
a. Differentiate“That was the old Paula Deen…”

b. Minimize“Deen still runs a good resteraunt

i.  Deen is still a great chef

c.  Compensate

i. Pay affected employees for pain and suffering.

d. Mortification

i. Although sa previous attempt at sympathy was made we believe that Deen will                    need to make a more sincere and heart-felt apology if she hopes to regain even                      part of the influence, respect and support she once had.

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Introduction and Literature Review – Lance Armstrong

Levi and I decided to split the work so he will write the abstract, the introduction and the literature review, and I’ll do the research methods, the findings and the discussion.


For our introduction we’ll briefly summarize Lance’s background describing his problems he had over the years, including his health problems. The introduction will be around two pages and it’ll demonstrate what is relevant about Lance’s life and what is not, and how he’s dealing now with all the problems he had to face.

In Armstrong’s case, complete restoration of his image is an unfathomable goal. This article will use the word repair over the word restore because in cases of broken images such as this, it is not reasonable to try and obtain complete image restoration and therefore, repair or improvement of the broken image is what is important (Benoit 2006) Lance Armstrong portrays his understanding of this limitation on repairing his image when he says, “The stain’s not going away—my girls will grow into it. My two little ones will grow into it. This stain will live forever. Ill never get rid of it. Ill just try and do the best for my family, my community, my constituency—whatever that may be” (Hall 2013).

Literature Review

The literature review will be based on the Benoit studies and this give more detailed information about Lance’s career and what brought him to the point of making the wrong decisions. Here’s a short outline:

  1. Denial
    1. Simple denial: the accused denies that an offensive act occurs
    2. Shifting blame: someone else was responsible for the act
    3. Evade responsibility
      1. Provocation: the accused acted in response to other offensive act done by someone else
      2. Defeasibility: the accused had no control over the offensive act
      3. Accident: the offensive act happened by chance and wasn’t premeditated
      4. Good intentions: accused claims they were acting with good intent
    4. Reducing offensiveness
      1. Bolstering: accused tries to balance wrongdoing with their good qualities
      2. Minimization: accused says the event is less serious than appears
      3. Differentiation: compares one undesirable act with another undesirable act
      4. Transcendence: downplay act by bringing up something more important to consider
      5. Attack accuser: turn the tables and reduce credibility of accuser
      6. Compensation: offer to reimburse the victim
    5. Corrective Action: what the accused is going to do reverse act or ensure there is no recurrence of the act
    6. Mortification: apology for act generally characterized by remorse and contrition

Besides the Benoit studies, we’ll use social media as a weapon in Lance’s decisions about telling the truth. At the end, based on the articles found, we’ll try to compare him with other athletes that made some poor decisions as well. Comparing him with other athletes will be interesting because we’ll explain each one’s point of view on their decisions and how those decisions affected their careers.

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