TODAY   |  March 09, 2013

Crisis expert offers tips for dealing with personal tragedy

Lanny Davis, crisis expert to the stars, said that regular Americans can take a page from his new book “Crisis Tales: The Art of Distortion” to learn how to deal with a crisis in their personal lives. Davis is interviewed by NBC’s Carl Quintanilla.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> if are you famous and in trouble, lani davis is the guy you keep on speed dial . the crisis manager helped guide high-profile figures like martha stewart , bill clinton , and charlie rangel through public scandal. now he's out with a book called "crisis tales," about how to handle upheavals in your life. lanny davis , great to have you here.

>> thank you.

>> you saved some people out of some pretty tough holes. how did you get into that line of business?

>> good question. i went to law school with someone named hillary rodham . and the the clintons after the '96 election needed someone to speak to the public, and speak out on charges that were meritless. i learned about politics after the clinton white house and afterwards did the same thing.

>> you developed a reputation for, some would say, defending our helping unsavory character. i wonder if there's a line that you draw, someone that you absolutely will not represent.

>> i represented the board of trustees and penn state university . i've been asked would i have tried to defend jerry sandusky , a predator/monster who raped children. the answer is no. so it has to be something that i have a moral compass and that i'm able to get the facts. if i can't get the facts, i can't defend.

>> one lesson is don't plan on a big vacation, it could always get interrupted. martha stewart calls you in -- in 2000 , she's suspected of insider trading . she calls you in the middle of the night and says, "i want -- i need help. my lawyers don't want me to talk. what do i do?"

>> she used a blankety-blank in front of the word lawyers which most people do. the problem is, lawyers in the middle of a criminal investigation didn't want her to speak. martha stewart , one of the great communicators of all time, wanted to tell the truth and get the story out before the prosecutors made a decision. and as a lawyer, i was able to help her do that.

>> carnival cruiselines, "triumph" stranded in the gulf of mexico . widely criticized for not responding to passenger needs. how did they do?

>> they gave me a case study of how to do everything wrong compared to the chapter that i wrote on royal caribbean when it had a difficulty with somebody who went overboard by accident. they put the story out themselves. the ceo went on television and told the story. that was a model of how to do it the right way.

>> finally, how does an average american , just a regular person, incorporate some of the lessons of this book?

>> you know, i tell the story of senator trent lott who experienced a terrible personal issue when he had to step down as majority leader. that crisis was about healing. it -- couldn't restore his political position. that's the way people ought to look at it. if it's a personal matter, it starts with your spouse, your friend, your companion. it starts with healing. then the crisis can be over.

>> might get calls from guys saying, "i'm in touch with the wife." thank you very much.