Say It Isn't So Lady \O\: A Sex Scandal at the Oprah Leadership Academy for Girls
Barbara Burgess-Wilkerson, Barbara K. Fuller, Nathaniel Frederick II
January 1, 2015
Ethics & Social Justice
crisis communications, ethics and communications, leadership styles, brand management, media relations
Journal of Critical Incidents
This critical incident represents a real situation in which a well-known billionaire television executive, Oprah Winfrey was caught in the middle of a sex scandal at her beloved Leadership Academy. In response she visited the school to ensure the safety of the girls. She then made allegations and statements to the media and immediately terminated two individuals because of the allegations. This event played out in the media who weighed in throughout the ordeal; subsequently the charges were dropped on the first individual as insufficient evidence was found to support the charges. The executive was taken to court for defamation by the second individual; the case was resolved in an out-of-court settlement. Oprah’s candid communication and leadership styles in dealing with the media sends a powerful message to all those who manage and lead because of the consistency in her morality and values which translate into ethical and honest communications.