Of the many things happening in this week’s episode one of the most interesting is Olivia taking on as a client Will Caldwell, whose family is considered political royalty. He is running for the office of Governor of North Carolina and although he is from a long line of distinguished, although frequently scandalous politicians, his chances are being threatened by rumors that he’s gay. He is handsome, successful and has been single for quite awhile all of which helps feed the rumor which can be crippling to his political career based on conservatives’ support both at the polls and in raising funds.
The biggest boon to gossip and hearsay has been the proliferation of communications in our hi-tech society. The ability to get a message out so quickly and widespread in a time where we demand our information immediately has opened the door for unsubstantiated rumors. With so many sources, accuracy and confirmation can be difficult; the result is that rumors are more influential than ever. They can literally make or break one’s image or reputation especially if appearances allow for the rumor to be a possibility. Denials are expected and will do little to turn the tide. Olivia understands that actions are needed; contrary behavior to the rumors must be exhibited. Hence, we see the plan for a “fake” marriage to be staged; a construction of romance for political expediency. A union of convenience that is simply countering one lie with another. What does this say about our culture when appearance is so important? For one thing it makes the media that much more powerful and an important tool in affecting outcomes. The media becomes a tool for generating and exposing truths. The effects of the information age, ideally, can become a way to expand transparency but it will take awhile to overcome the cynicism that it has helped to generate from its constant stream of scandals and purported scandals.
Judy A. Smith is the founder and President of Smith and Company, a leading strategic and crisis communications firm with offices in Washington D.C. and Los Angeles as well as a Co-Executive Producer of ABC's Scandal. You can follow her on Twitter (@JudySmith_) or "Like" her on Facebook, and you can get more information about managing personal and professional crisis situations by visiting her site, judysmith.com.