The Art of Sandbagging
How the Access Hollywood and Roy Moore Bombshells Should Have Been Handled.
“Sandbagging” is defined as “hiding the strength, skill or difficulty of something or someone early in an engagement.” In this article it means holding something back to use later to greater advantage than had it been released initially.
The notorious Trump Access Hollywood tapes provide a wonderful example of how I feel this could have worked. The tapes were released with the initial reports dramatically revealing Donald Trump’s demeaning comments about women and bragging about sexually assaulting women. Everyone knew right away the allegations were indisputable because of the tape, to include Trump. Denying it happened was not an option. Instead, he apologized and dismissed it as “locker room talk” while shifting the discussion to Hillary’s emails.
So here’s the question. How much more effective would it have been to release only the contents of the tapes, to describe them and quote from them, without releasing the tapes themselves while attributing the information to “anonymous sources.” This would have likely suckered Trump into denying the story completely and deeming it “fake news.” Once Trump was so committed then release the tapes amplifying his crime because he tried to cover it up and lie about it. Further, all his other claims of “fake news” lose credibility. The first report could have read something like this:
A source has informed the Washington Post that while working with the series Access Hollywood Donald Trump made inappropriate and offensive comments about women. Our source indicates he talked about abusing his power of authority to kiss women and grab womens’ vaginas without consent, though he used a vulgar and demeaning term. Trump also detailed efforts to seduce Access Hollywood co-host Nancy O’Dell, or as he crudely put it “I did try to f-ck her.” He described the seduction effort as including taking her furniture shopping and said “I moved on her like a bitch.” Our source says Trump indicated he lost interest because she got married and supposedly had breast augmentation. We are reaching out to the Trump Campaign for confirmation of this story.
As you can see a story like that leaves Trump plenty of room to deny it ever happened. He likely would have, quite possibly changing the outcome of the election with the subsequent release of the tape proving him a liar.
I was reminded of this concept with the announcement from the 5th accuser of Republican Senate Candidate Roy Moore. The 5th accuser, Beverley Nelson, presented the most shocking allegations yet. She claimed Roy Moore violently sexually assaulted her, apparently attempting to rape her, when she was 16.
She bolstered her story with proof she and Moore had at least met. She presented Moore’s signature in a yearbook that included a rather creepy message from a 30 year old man to someone who was supposedly just a 16 year old waitress at a restaurant he frequented. He bragged about being a District Attorney, called her beautiful, suggested he loved her and included the date and and location.
“To a sweeter more beautiful girl I could not say Merry Christmas. Christmas 1977. Love, Roy Moore, D.A. 12–22–77 Olde Hickory House.”
I suggest Beverley Nelson and her attorney should have simply told the story of the assault without showing or mentioning the yearbook. Then they wait for Moore to deny he ever met her (as he has done with other accusers). Then they the spring the yearbook signature, with it’s creepy message, discrediting his claims in general. It would also discredit is denials of having met the other accusers. Moore’s deplorable defenders would have a much tougher job.
Some may suggest this approach is dishonest. It is not. It is merely presenting others with the chance to be dishonest. The accusers are generally powerless people of no reputation making allegations against powerful people who are worshipped by others. Making their case in a way that allows such people a chance to bolster their case, popping the false bubble of their personality cults, is just smart. After all, the accused still have the option of telling the truth. There is nothing dishonorable in leaving them choice not to.