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Saturday, November 3, 2007

Dog the Bounty Hunter: PR Nightmares Can Come From Within

Dog the Bounty Hunter made a career damaging mistake this week. He trusted someone with one of his most private of secrets. That someone he trusted was his son and what he told him has shed new light on “Dog”.

Duane “Dog” Chapman uses the n-word. We now know this because his son secretly recorded a telephone conversation when Dog exhibited his most canine side by explaining to his son that he could not bring his Black girlfriend around his staff because they often use the n-word. He told his son that he didn’t want to risk his Black girlfriend hearing the n-word because it could destroy everything he worked hard for. It is nice Dog could see how that would be a public relations problem, but it looks like his son values respect for humans over the family fortune.

Dog’s son recorded his enlightening conversation with his father and released it to the media, n-word and all. Now according to A&E, “Dog the Bounty Hunter” reality show has been shelved by A&E indefinitely - all because Dog trusted his son with his secret bone.

As the Dog, Britney Spears and Michael Vick realize, pretty much no one can be trusted. Even if you are a successful business owner or local celebrity in your own right, the people you think care about you may resent you. In the case of Dog, his son must have been outraged by his father’s display of pure disrespect and bigotry. He must have been hurt by his father and returned the favor by damaging Dog’s reputation.

You ever hear the saying “it’s lonely at the top”? Well it is true. In order to stay on top, you need to keep your distance from those who desire to destroy you. Question – when was the last time you heard about Bill Gates and his best friend? Or maybe Warren Buffet’s long time golf buddy. Donald Trump’s closest confidant? I can’t name anyone in particular. These guys are either with their wives or with business colleagues. You never hear about the best friends – because they probably don’t have someone they want that close to them for fear they might expose something about them.

Dog’s mistake was not talking on the phone with his son and using the n-word. It is his arrogance that he can control his son’s life and be free to say what ever he wants. If he doesn’t use the n-word when the camera is rolling for his A&E program, why couldn’t he use that same restraint when his son’s girlfriend was around? And why couldn’t he demand that his staff be respectful (as respectful as bigots could be) if she happened to come around with his son?

The lesson learned? Don’t say anything you don’t want repeated. Period. Don’t say anything improper to anyone. Use restraint when ever possible. And never have a conversation that you want to be confidential on the phone or via email.

Dog was right – it would be stupid to lose everything if his son’s girlfriend were to hear him use the n-word. Unfortunately, she didn’t need to come around his office or staff to hear it. His son took care of that and now the whole world knows. His worst fear may have come true and he may have done himself in – for now.

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