Alex Rodriguez press conference was bad PR—for PR

When the baseball star said he was ‘fighting for my life’ in his high-profile doping case, observers reacted with acrimony toward an apparently scripted plea.

In his press conference Monday night, Alex Rodriguez directly defended himself while indirectly saying a lot about public relations. On Monday, Major League Baseball suspended the New York Yankees slugger for 211 games—through the end of the 2014 season—for his involvement in a doping scandal, yet he still played in that night’s game against the Chicago White Sox. He was able to play because he’s appealing the suspension, and in a press conference before the game, Rodriguez painted himself as an embattled warrior: “I’m fighting for my life,” he said. “I have to defend myself. If I don’t defend myself, no one else will.” That language is very similar to what appeared in a now-deleted tweet from Rodriguez’s PR spokesman Ron Berkowitz. In it, he said, “Hello Chicago!!! Lets do this!!! #fighting” One might say that’s an example of a PR spokesman and his client simply staying on message, but quite a few observers on Twitter—PR pros included—viewed the confluence as a cynical attempt to generate sympathy. For example, one Twitter commentator (who used some not-safe-for-work language) said Rodriguez was crying “crocodile tears,” adding, “Can’t wait to see what his PR firm has him spit out next.” Political strategist Chris Russell had this to say:

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