Augusta Free Press

John Grisham and the child porn defense SEO, PR nightmare

You never want your name in the Google era to be in a headline with the words child porn. Whatever possessed bestselling author John Grisham to broach the topic in an interview with a British newspaper, the resulting crapstorm of publicity for Grisham will linger for some time.

“We’ve got prisons now filled with guys my age, 60-year-old white men, in prison, who have never harmed anyone. Who would never touch a child, but they got online one night, started surfing around, probably had too much to drink whatever and pushed the wrong buttons, and went too far and went into child porn or whatever,” Grisham said in an interview with The Telegraph.

Beautiful. So not only did Grisham invite headline writers to put his name in connection with child porn at the top of stories, but the meat of the story has the Charlottesville-based author complaining about old white guys going to prison for downloading pictures of kids. Kids, who by the way, are forced into pornography because sleazeballs know they can make money putting kiddie porn out there for old white guys looking to get off to.

Yikes, indeed.

You feel bad for Grisham’s PR handlers. This is no easy job, coming back from your meal ticket defending child porn pervs.

You can smell the musty pages of the old PR handbook being opened up and used as a point of reference for the post that Grisham made to Facebook to try to talk himself back into cultural relevance.

“Anyone who harms a child for profit or pleasure, or who in any way participates in child pornography—online or otherwise—should be punished to the fullest extent of the law,” Grisham posted. “My comments made two days ago during an interview with the British newspaper “The Telegraph” were in no way intended to show sympathy for those convicted of sex crimes, especially the sexual molestation of children. I can think of nothing more despicable.

“I regret having made these comments, and apologize to all.”

Points there for not playing the “I apologize to all who were offended” and “my comments were taken out of context” lines of defense. Of course, the last line of defense wasn’t available because The Telegraph made video of the interview available.

The hard thing to imagine is how a guy who seems to be among the more savvy among us could be this tone deaf in the first place. He can say now that all who participate in child porn should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, but it’s not like he left a lot of gray area in what he had to say originally. “We’ve gone nuts with this incarceration” doesn’t leave a lot of room to come back to the rest of us.

Troubling to some commenting on the various news sites that covered this story today is that Grisham famously built and runs a youth baseball facility in Albemarle County. Profiling being what it is, an art that is at best an inexact science, some have tried to make the connection that Grisham is making a case for old white guys interested in kiddie porn at the same time that he spends his springs and summers around hundreds of kids in his baseball park.

Which is unfair as hell to say about the guy, to say the least, but Grisham himself opened that door, and try to tamp down those whispers now.

File this in the Dumbest Damn Things a Smart Guy Has Ever Said Department. And unfortunately for Grisham, this one will never go away.

– Column by Chris Graham



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