On the off chance that you haven’t yet heard of him, Ben Carson is a probable 2016 Republican Party presidential candidate. Or at least he was about a week ago.
On Wednesday, March 6, the retired neurosurgeon was being interviewed on CNN’s “New Day” when he said that being gay is “absolutely” a choice.
While that opinion itself isn’t enough to sink a candidacy, his justification might just be enough to doom his presidential aspirations. Carson asserted that sexual orientation is a choice because people go into prison straight and come out gay.
"Because a lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight, and when they come out, they're gay," he said. "So, did something happen while they were in there? Ask yourself that question."
As would be expected, these comments ignited a firestorm across the Internet. However, instead of simply attempting to apologize or clarify his statement and move forward, Carson did the opposite — he criticized CNN.
Several hours after the interview and its subsequent backlash, Carson publicly criticized CNN’s decision to air his comments. This decision broke one of the cardinal rules of media relations — never insult the interviewer.
This second round of poor judgment displayed by Carson serves as a clear reminder of why it is never smart to turn against an interviewer. Public criticism of his statements increased exponentially after he tried to blame CNN.
In a matter of 12 hours, Carson went from being a likely presidential candidate to being the laughing stock of the Internet, purely due to his poor response in the face of crisis.
It was not until much later in the evening on the day of the interview that Carson finally broke down and issued a formal apology for his statements.
"I realized that my choice of language does not reflect fully my heart on gay issues," Carson wrote in a Facebook post lateWednesday evening. "I do not pretend to know how every individual came to their sexual orientation. I regret that my words to express that concept were hurtful and divisive. For that I apologize unreservedly to all that were offended."
This situation serves as a strong reminder of why it is important to stay composed in the face of a crisis. Did Carson make some inflammatory remarks? Absolutely. Could he have recovered from his remarks? Yes, without a doubt.
The easiest way to handle the situation would have been for Carson to immediately offer a public apology and address the issue head on. Had he done that, Carson would have been able to correct any misunderstandings or misconceptions rather than digging a deeper hole.
--by Pete Pajor, PRSSA Executive Member
All blogs are written by general members of UAPRSSA and Capstone Agency.