PR expert: Bob Costas may suffer backlash from comments on gun control

The issue is not whether you agree or disagree with Costas' gun control position, it's whether 'Sunday Night Football' was the appropriate forum, says Glenn Selig, from the PR firm The Publicity Agency.
(PR NewsChannel) / December 3, 2012 / TAMPA, Fla. 

Bob Costas gun control commentsBob Costas set off quite a frenzy when he decided to use the sports pulpit to opine about gun control.

Bob Costas talked gun control during his halftime segment on NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” following the murder-suicide of Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher which happened the day before. 

Belcher shot and killed Kasandra Perkins, his girlfriend and mother of his child, and then killed himself.

Doing such a thing made lots of headlines, but was it a public relations mistake?

“Bob Costas generally offers opinions that are popular with the public. He’s been the sports commentator version of a populist politician, expressing positions that the vast majority of the public typically agree with,” says Glenn Selig, a crisis management public relations expert and founder of The Publicity Agency. “That is not the case this time when he fired off his mouth on gun control.”

Selig notes that people tuned in to watch a game, not to hear Bob Costas talk about gun control.

“He’s entitled to his opinion. But I believe most people believe that he should offer it on his own time when the public has the chance to listen or tune him out and then agree or disagree–not when they are blindsided during a football halftime show,” says Selig on his PR blog.

There’s been fierce reaction to Bob Costas’ decision to weigh in on gun control–even rocker Ted Nugent (@tednugent) weighed in on Twitter:

“Hey Bob Costas we all kno that obesity is a direct result of the proliferation of spoons & forks Get a clue,” wrote Nugent.

On the Fox Business Network, Judge Andrew Napolitano took issue with Costas conclusions–not the timing.

“We all use steak knives to help us enjoy our meals, but they can also be a dangerous weapon. So is the government going to ban them? They’re far more easily attainable than guns,” Napolitano said on Varney & Co. this morning.

Without commenting on whether he agrees with Costas or not, Ben Jacobs from the Daily Download said Costas was right to opine at the time he did.

“Sports has served as a prism for American society for over a century. The playing field has been an important forum for Americans to sort out issues of race, class and gender. It has produced heroes like Jackie Robinson, Curt Flood and Muhammad Ali who have become icons not just for their athletic accomplishments because of their important role in broader societal struggles,” writes Jacobs in an article titled “Taking a Stand: Bob Costas’ Groundbreaking Comments on Gun Control.” 

“This criticism of gun culture is controversial and Costas almost certainly had to know it would be. But his role is not to smother this tragedy in cliche but rather to try to put it in a broader perspective. It’s what Jim McKay did during the 1972 Olympics; it’s what Howard Cosell did at his best.”

Selig disagrees. In part, because gun control may have nothing to do with what happened.

Selig believes Costas will suffer a backlash–and so might NBC Sports.

“Bob Costas gun control comments were out of bounds because it’s not only about what you say but when you say it,” says Selig.

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SOURCE:  The Publicity Agency

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