The entire country watched in horror this month as Paula Deen’s deep-fried, butter-soaked career came crashing down in a mess of outrageous statements and one of the most painful non-apologies we’ve ever had the misfortune to witness.
Mrs. Deen’s fall was so epic, in fact, that it distracted us from another perfectly served case study in poor media relations. This one came courtesy of clay court champ Serena Williams, who ruined what should have been a complimentary Rolling Stone profile with a few ill-advised comments and a passive-aggressive “apology.”
While visiting a nail salon with reporter Stephen Rodrick, Williams saw a news report about the Steubenville, Ohio rape case that sent two high school football stars to jail and led to a PR fail for CNN when anchors Poppy Harlow and Candy Crowley appeared to express more sympathy for the rapists than their victim.
Serena said of the perpetrators: “Do you think it was fair, what they got? They did something stupid, but I don’t know.” Beyond classifying the rape of a 16-year-old girl as “something stupid” and wondering whether the offenders were punished too harshly, Williams also had some less-than-flattering words for the victim:
“I’m not blaming the girl, but…why was she that drunk where she doesn’t remember? She’s lucky… she shouldn’t have put herself in that position, unless they slipped her something, then that’s different.”
Did she really need to throw a “but” in there?