Reese Witherspoon's previously squeaky-clean image took a bit of a hit this past weekend when news broke regarding her arrest for disorderly conduct following her husband Jim Toth's arrest on suspicion of DUI.
As a result, the careful public relations process began Monday morning, when Witherspoon's rep issued a statement on her behalf.
"Out of respect for the ongoing legal situation, I cannot comment on everything that is being reported right now. But I do want to say, I clearly had one drink too many and I am deeply embarrassed about the things I said. It was definitely a scary situation and I was frightened for my husband, but that is no excuse. I was disrespectful to the officer who was just doing his job. I have nothing but respect for the police and I'm very sorry for my behavior."
"Omg! Insider" spoke on Monday with Howard Bragman, Chairman of Reputation.com and a long-time Hollywood public relations expert. Bragman thinks that Witherspoon has handled everything well so far, giving her an "A" grade on the PR front.
"I thought it was fine," he explained. "#1 she took responsibility; #2, she didn't try and brush off anything; #3 she respected law enforcement; and #4, she bought herself some time by virtue of saying the fact that this case is still in the court system and [she] can't comment any further."
Bragman adds that he thinks this is just a small speed bump in the road for Witherspoon and that she's going to recover just fine. He predicts we'll see her supporting law enforcement causes in the near future, such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving. He thinks she also made the right decision to pull out of the junket Monday for her new film, "Mud," as not to distract attention away from the film. He thinks Toth has a bigger PR rehab job on his hands though, because an alleged DUI is much more serious than disorderly conduct.
But it seems that the real PR battle might be taking place over whether or not what was written in the police report is accurate. Perhaps the part of the report that was most damaging to Witherspoon's reputation is when the officer wrote, "Mrs. Witherspoon asked, 'Do you know my name?' I answered, 'No, I don’t need to know your name.' I then added, 'right now.' Mrs. Witherspoon stated, 'You’re about to find out who I am.' I stated, 'I am not worried about you ma'am.'"
This section reeked with the cliché of Hollywood entitlement -- a far cry from how most people would describe the quite beloved actress.
"What an arrogant person she is," Elaine wrote in the comments section on omg!'s article.
"Another Hollywood personality with an inflated view of her own importance," reader SE3.5 wrote.
"Wow. She always seemed classier than that. I guess she's not," reader Wf wrote.
A source close to Witherspoon told E! Online, "It wasn't like that," and that as she was being handcuffed Witherspoon asked, "Do you know my name?" as in, "Don't you need to know my name?" (For filling out the report.)
"I think it really doesn't matter whether she actually said, 'Do you know who I am?' or not," Bragman continued. "The perception out there is that she said that at some point … I would even probably expect that the charges against her may be dropped, since they are relatively minor. She might do a slightly longer interview about this situation and clear it up. But I don't think it matters, I don't think it's worth dealing with right now."
There's no doubt that Witherspoon is the archetype of a Type-A personality. In fact, that's even what she named her production company -- "Type A Productions." Bragman points out that, "From her behavior, we saw Reese's loyalty, asserting herself in the situation and standing by her man. These are generally considered noble things." Although she broke the law, in some ways, her fan base might understand this behavior as being in line with her personality.
No matter the course of action, Witherspoon's arrest came as a shock to many. Many were left in disbelief, even though it's certainly possible for most people to understand that to err is human. Of course, maybe the best approach of all is to react with a sense of humor. That's the path "The Office" star Rainn Wilson took on Twitter, writing:
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