I just got around to reading Ron's exceptional comment. Though I don't often share his opinions, he has done a fine textbook one here.
It doesn't reflect badly on any of us if we've ever quit a job, fired someone or gotten a divorce although once we were deeply in love.
Richard Edelman had an obligation to his US president but also an obligation to his clients to maintain the superb media relations that the Edelman firm has earned which is one reason it has has over $600 million in billings plus the trust of the world's top editors, broadcasters and political leaders.
"When in the course of human events" it became necessary for America to split from England because of things King Gorge had done, we split. And when it became necessary to change Edelman-US presidents
so as to preserve Edelman's magnificent media relations reputation--for the benefit of the clients and of Edelman--Richard Edelman, like a coach replacing his quarterback, did what he had to do.
When the value of an excellent athlete or executive is diminished by
substance abuse or as in this case a brief but sadly damaging media relations blunder, a head must roll.
I would guess that "ham-head" was said to make the media guy feel better, and that his disclosing the remark was a breach of confidence by the journalist. But even if a journalist's betrayal of Edelman's confidence is what led to the lost job, it's what journalists sometimes do and what executives sometimes endure.
Mark Hass said what he said and e-mailed what he e-mailed, and Edelman did what he had to do.
President Nixon's moral failure was not in organizing the Watergate break-in which almost certainly was done at a lower level but in trying to cover it up. Richard Edelman to his credit did NOT try a cover-up but admitted the truth and took prompt corrective action which probably was very painful.
It is classical PR wisdom, when it comes out that a company has done something awful, to point out that it wasn't the company but one or a few individuals who may be implicated, that the company has "zero tolerance" for such things and that the accused wrongdoers are no longer employed by the company.
If someone says the dear departed "left for other opportunities," that's understood to be a euphemism and is in fact correct. Unless they retire forever they will look at other opportunities. If it is said that the dear departed screwed up, that's also true for so have we all. It was correctly written before any of us were born that all have sinned.
Fortunately, free enterprise is merciful, sinners learn and repent and many of them go on to do great things for the world and for themselves and for clients.
No one can doubt that Mark Hass is a brilliant PR talent to have risen to Edelman-US president and that he will be a brilliant PR talent somewhere else. So Richard Edelman protected his clients and protected his firm and may have triggered Hass' rise to even higher achievements elsewhere.