Once two of America’s most beloved celebrities, golfer Tiger Woods and Mel Gibson have taken similar approaches to combating massive scandals in their personal lives by maintaining silence despite intense public scrutiny.
Last year, when news of Tiger Woods’ affairs broke, the disgraced pro-golfer kept his silence even as mistress after mistress came forward with salacious details of their alleged affair.
It wasn’t until almost five months after the news of his infidelity became public that the then-billionaire came out of hiding and finally faced the music with a press conference.
In a scandal of similar gravity, as accusations of domestic abuse and profanity-filled tapes from actor Mel Gibson are leaked onto the web, the high-profile actor (who was also dumped by his agents at William Morris/Endeavor) has kept quiet and simply disappeared into obscurity.
While Gibson’s attorneys have been firing back at his former girlfriend Oksana Grigorieva’s disturbing allegations, Gibson himself hasn’t argued back. This past weekend, he even emerged from hiding, as he was spotted leaving a doctor’s office in Santa Monica, Calif.
But despite claims of extortion at the hands of Grigorieva, Gibson’s handlers have kept quiet on the material in the now-infamous taped conversations.
So has Gibson, like Woods, made a dire situation even worse by not addressing the very serious issues at hand?
“Mel Gibson is allowing the situation to grow out of control by saying nothing and doing nothing because all the public is hearing is one side of the story,” Glenn Selig, Founder of the celebrity-targeted crisis management firm The Publicity Agency told Pop Tarts “If this is not true, Gibson should have been out there trying to squash it. By not saying anything, he has reinforced to the public that the tapes are probably real and he did do and say those things to the mother of his child.”
But according to another public relations expert, it is in Gibson’s best interest to keep his notoriously controversial mouth closed.
“I strongly suspect that Gibson's lawyers have told him to keep his mouth shut, because they know how quickly he's capable of damaging himself,” Jonathon Bernstein, the President of Bernstein Crisis Management said. “Gibson has been through this before, and each time it's harder to recover one's reputation.”
So what will it take for the shamed actor to be somewhat palatable to audiences once again?
"Mel Gibson may very well have crossed over into the O.J. Simpson/John Edwards category of 'High Profile Figure' who is so toxic that he may never recover,” added Jason Maloni, VP of Levick Strategic Communications. “Of course he needs to issue a credible, heartfelt apology. But much more than words, Mel needs to take clear actions to rebuild his reputation. He needs to take steps to get some sort of counseling, to make amends to the people and groups he's offended.
Maloni added that other disgraced stars like Robert Downey Jr. and Mickey Rourke have both made comebacks, and with a lot of hard work, Gibson could reverse the trajectory he seems to be on.
“Mel can come back, but it might be a long road,” he said. “It starts with good behavior.”
Additional reporting from Deidre Behar.