Top Ten Mistakes of Roger Clemens’ Legal Communications Team Mistake #1 Waiting three weeks to make a personal public statement.
People connect with people, not lawyers. By relying on his lawyer Rusty Hardin, to make a statement on his behalf and later a videotaped statement on his foundation’s website, Clemens missed the opportunity present his “compelling human face” to his audience.
Mistake #2: Not challenging McNamee's statement within the first 48 hours of the Mitchell report being made public.
The first 48 hours of any communications effort are critical. This time period defines to the public the proactive side and the defensive side. Whichever side is seen as the proactive side keeps control of the message.
Mistake #3: Appearing defensive and combative at the press conference. Clemens looked hostile, insulted the reporters, cussed and walked out
when it became obvious the reporters were questioning his story. Hardin tried to keep things light but it was too late- it was obvious Clemens was not prepared for the reality of the public perception and had no strategy to turn the public sentiment back to his favor.
Mistake #4: Putting McNamee on trial without addressing Mitchell report accusations. Failure to address what everyone is talking about results in making a client look as thought they are deflecting. It is not proactive and almost always results in the client taking the weaker, defensive position throughout the media campaign
Mistake #5: Playing the McNamee phone conversation tape at the press conference as if it proved Clemens innocence.
I will leave this one to ESPN Columnist Gene Wojciechowski: “Why, when McNamee repeatedly asked, ‘Roger, what do you want me to do?’ didn't Clemens tell his former trainer to appear at the Monday news conference? After all, McNamee offered several times to fly to the Houston area to meet with Clemens. Why, if McNamee's testimony to the feds was tainted, didn't he say so to Clemens? Why hasn't he said so publicly (McNamee told Clemens he had been offered "seven figures" to tell his story on TV)? Why, if McNamee was trying to frame Clemens (as Clemens' attorney Rusty Hardin suggested as a possibility), did McNamee tell the pitcher,
‘I'll go to jail. I'll do whatever you want me to do’? Hardin reminded reporters Monday that McNamee never "corrected" Clemens when the pitcher told the trainer he was telling "the truth." So? McNamee also never confirmed Clemens was telling the truth, either.”
Mistake #6: Not arranging for a sympathetic medical expert to answer questions at the press conference.
Lidocaine injections, B-12 shots, Vioxx, we’ve learned more about sports medicine as viewers in the last week than any of us probably ever wanted to know. But how much of this is hype and how much of
this is common practice in a locker room? I don’t know, and obviously Clemens legal team doesn’t think I need to know. Had the team brought in a credible but sympathetic sports medicine doctor to explain the particulars of this kind of treatment a lot of the speculation of the media could have been avoided.
Mistake #7: Clemens expresses anger that his 24-year career didn’t earn him the benefit of the doubt.
For Clemens to think 354 career wins and seven Cy Young Awards should protect him from scrutiny raised by a Major League Baseball-commissioned investigation is the either the height of naiveté or the height of arrogance. Either way it makes Roger look as though he believes his fame puts him above scrutiny.
Mistake #8: Clemens waffles to Mike Wallace about taking the lie detector test without a clear explanation by the legal team in technical terms the reasons Clemens is hesitant.
It took Rusty Hardin standing up at the press conference the next day to explain why he didn’t trust polygraph tests. Okay, his explanation sold me, but why didn’t he give that clear reasoning to Roger so he could explain his reticence to Mike Wallace? Roger’s explanation made him look squirmy about the prospect of being caught in a lie.
Mistake #9: Clemens contradicts himself in his explanation for not wanting to take steroids.
Why would Roger admit to taking a painkilling injection 15 minutes before a 2001 World Series Game to mask elbow pain,
pop Vioxx like Skittles and receive lidocaine injections yet recoil at the idea of steroids being a “quick fix’? Choosing three themes for a client to repeat, over and over throughout the course of an interview helps them focus and avoid making embarrassing contradictions like this.
Mistake #10: Not respecting the public.
Respect is earned, not just from what has been accomplished in the past, but exhibited in the present. Roger’s reluctance to come forward immediately and his anger when he was finally forced to give an interview smacks of arrogance, and worst of all, guilt. And the court of public opinion does not forgive easily.
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