I once had an argument with my colleagues at the law firm about the public relations tack to take with a criminal client. I told them that the whole “our client is looking forward to his day in court” stuff was tired and no one ever bought it. Better to say nothing or to come up with something new at least, I argued, because that old line was pretty close to saying “man, our dude is guilty, but maybe we can sucker 12 rubes who don’t read the newspapers into going all O.J.-jury on us!”
Of course, because I was a peon, I was told to go back to reviewing documents. They used the old reliable statement. Our client was found guilty. A better statement wouldn’t have changed that, but at least it would have been more fun.
Anyway, I had this in mind when I heard Roger Clemens’ latest statement about his upcoming trial:
“You almost hate to say you’re looking forward to it, but we’re looking forward to it … We’re going to have our say in a fair setting. I’ve been great about not talking about it, and we’re going to handle it the right way. You’ve got to deal with it, and that’s the way I look at it: We’re going to deal with it.”
It’s not too different, but at least that’s better than the straight stock answer.
I gotta tell ya, though, that whole “we’re going to have our say in a fair setting” thing is funny. Take yourself back to late 2007/early 2008, and remember that the stuff that got Roger Clemens in the most trouble — the stuff that truly set this whole insane business off — was Clemens speaking in decidedly unfair settings. Unfair in his favor.
He gave press conferences orchestrated by his lawyer. He did 60 minutes with a strangely softball-throwing Mike Wallace. He issued reports that spun his career achievements in the most ridiculous ways. The net result of all of that was an invitation to a Congressional hearing that never would have happened had he not blustered forth so stridently, and in which his own public statements were used against him. Now he’s facing criminal charges.
Roger, dude: I love you man.* But given how bad your own P.R. spectacles have come back to bite you on the ass, a “fair” setting is likely to absolutely murder you.
*May not be true.