In crises, especially those involving litigation, defense lawyers invariably advise their high-paying clients to clam up in the court of public opinion. The thinking goes that something published or aired today could regrettably surface during the trial.
Lately, however, I’ve observed a different tactic being played out by the prominent and powerful. It is outright defiance. Richards Scrushy and Grasso come to mind with their aggressive and very public pronouncements designed to debilitate their detractors. Scrushy got off, and Grasso seems to be headed toward a settlement with Elliott. AIG’s Maurice Greenberg defiantly chimed in yesterday, and now the Indonesian head of the world’s largest gold mining company Newmont publicly bristled at government prosecutors hoping to convict him for polluting Buyat Bay. (Doesn’t Indonesia have more pressing issues on on its plate???)
Litigation PR is nothing new. It’s the recent (and apparently successful) public aggressiveness by high profile defendants that intrigues…Colonel Jessup notwithstanding.