Jerold Follinsworth is an elected official on the verge of giving the most important speech of his entire life, but he doesn’t know which speech to give. He looks down at his hands and sees two very different speeches. The speech in his left hand clearly admits to the public that he has been having an affair with a senior staffer. The allegations have been around for a few months, but his office has been denying the allegations as slanderous attacks from his opponents. In his right hand, he has a speech that sidesteps the affair allegations and focuses on an important policy issue. If Jerold gives the speech in his left hand, an important initiative for his state will be defeated by his political enemies. If Jerold gives the speech in his right hand, he will be deceiving the public, but it will lead to increased growth in jobs for his state. Jerold asked his top speech writer to prepare both speeches. As Jerold waits in the wings for his press conference, he’s just not sure which speech he should give.
What ethical communication choices do you see Jerold as having in this case?
How would you analyze Jerold’s decision using the ethical pyramid?
How would you apply the National Communication Association (NCA) Credo for Ethical Communication to this case?