BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — Governor Robert Bentley (R-AL), who has been mired in a sex scandal for weeks, has recently begun apologizing to the people of Alabama for his inappropriate relationship with his former senior advisor Rebekah Caldwell Mason. But one Birmingham psychologist says he could not be doing it any worse.
Known as “Dr. Josh,” Joshua C. Klapow is a clinical psychologist who works extensively with local television and radio outlets in the dissemination of health promotion and preparedness information.
“Gov. Bentley has two kinds of relationships, personal and public,” Klapow said. “The details of his personal relationships have been made public and therefore are a part of of his public relationship.
“When trust has been betrayed, it is so common to see the party who has betrayed the trust desperately wanting amend the wrong and make the issue go away. They may truly be sorry for their actions, they may truly care about who they have betrayed, but the reminder of the betrayal can strike a reflexive, defensive action.”
Klapow believes Bentley exhibited such “defensive action” when he scolded reporters last week when he was asked about the scandal after a bill signing.
(Video below: Bentley scolds reporters. More after the video)
At the signing, Bentley spoke with reporters, but said he would only respond to questions about “jobs and people.” But the reporters wouldn’t back down, and asked if the scandal could hurt economic development in the state. At this, Bentley angrily stopped the reporter and asked, “Did you hear what I just said?” He then called the reporter’s question illegitimate.
“This interaction with the media is a classic example,” said. Dr. Klapow. “He wants to move on. He wants to show that he is doing good, doing what he is supposed to be doing, and doing the right thing. But the issue has not gone away. The public is not ready to move on, and the worst possible thing one can do is to allow the anxiety and hurt from ones act of betrayal to come out as an attack on those betrayed. The ‘ground rules’ are no longer yours when you have to earn trust back.”
Klapow closed with one piece of advice for the politician: “Gov. Bentley needs a psychologist on his communications team.”