1st Edition

Character Assassination and Reputation Management Theory and Applications

    280 Pages 48 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    280 Pages 48 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This lively book offers the first comprehensive examination of character assassination. In modern politics as well as in historical times, character attacks abound. Words and images, like psychological weapons, have sullied or destroyed numerous individual reputations. How does character assassination "work" and when or why does it not? Are character attacks getting worse in the age of social media? Why do many people fail when they are under character attack? How should they prevent attacks and defend against them?

    Moving beyond discussions about corporate reputation management and public relations canons, Character Assassination and Reputation Management is designed to help understand, critically analyze, and effectively defend against such attacks. Written by an international and interdisciplinary team of experts, the book begins with a discussion of theoretical and applied features of the "five pillars" of character assassination: (1) the attacker, (2) the target, (3) the media, (4) the audience, and (5) the context. The remaining chapters present engaging in-depth discussions and case studies suitable for homework and class discussion. These cases include:

    • Historic figures
    • Leaders from modern times
    • Women in politics
    • U.S. presidents
    • World leaders
    • Political autocrats
    • Democratic leaders
    • Scientists
    • Celebrities

    Featuring an extensive glossary of key terms, critical thinking exercises, and summaries to encourage problem-based learning, Character Assassination and Reputation Management will prove invaluable to the undergraduate and postgraduate students in communication, political science, global affairs, history, sociology, and psychology departments.

    1. Introduction

    2. Character Assassination in History

    3. Approaches and Methodology to Study Character Assassination

    4. The Actors in Character Attacks

    5. Content and Types of Character Attacks

    6. Means and Venues

    7. The Impact of Character Attacks

    8. Defending Against and Managing Character Attacks

    9. The Culture Factor

    10. Character Assassination in Democracies

    11. The Political Factor: Authoritarianism

    12. Character Assassination in International Relations

    13. The Gender and Sexuality Factor

    14. Character Attacks in Sports, Science, and Entertainment



    Eric B. Shiraev is a professor, researcher, author, and editor of more than twenty books in the fields of political psychology, international relations, and cross-cultural studies. His multi-disciplinary approach emphasizes the role of culture and identity in social behavior and politics. He is a co-founder of the Research Lab on Character Assassination and Reputation Politics (CARP).

    Jennifer Keohane is an assistant professor and director of oral communication at the University of Baltimore in Baltimore, Maryland. She holds a Ph.D. in Communication Arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. With other founding members of CARP, she recently co-edited the Routledge Handbook on Character Assassination and Reputation Management.

    Martijn Icks is a lecturer in ancient history at the University of Amsterdam. He specializes in Roman imperial history and the history of character assassination. His book on the Roman emperor Elagabalus has appeared in three languages. He is a co-founder of CARP.

    Sergei A. Samoilenko is an assistant professor at the Department of Communication at George Mason University. He served as a past president of the Communication Association of Eurasian Researchers (CAER) and a co-founder of the Research Lab for Character Assassination and Reputation Politics (CARP) at George Mason University. He is a co-editor of Routledge Handbook of Character Assassination and Reputation Management, Handbook of Research on Deception, Fake News, and Misinformation Online, and Media and Public Relations Research in Post-Soviet Societies.

    "Character Assassination and Reputation Management is scholarly in its approach, impressive in its scope, current in its applications, and engaging in its readability. The best and most timely book on this topic in the field!"

    David A. Levy, Ph.D., Professor, Pepperdine University

    "This is an essential handbook for understanding why character assassination happens. Hopefully it will be part of the foundation that explores the realistic exercises that can – and cannot – be undertaken to mitigate against such a destructive phenomenon."

    Eric Dezenhall, Crisis Management Consultant, CEO Dezenhall Resources - Public Affairs

    "This book represents a very important contribution to political and media literacy, an extremely topical and vital subject of today."

    Martina Klicperová, Ph.D., Czech Academy of Sciences

    "This first textbook on a very critical and timely subject is a must-read for students and teachers, theorists and practitioners, and anyone who wants to learn how to be the master of their judgments about people in the world of politics and business. Excitingly written, this book makes us observers of complex strategic operations, where the main weapon against the chosen target is the word. The narrative woven out of many examples from history and modern events allows us to see the methods and tools used by reputation killers and to get acquainted with methods of protection that can be useful to any of us, but especially to current and future politicians, business leaders, and heads of state."

    Ekaterina Egorova, Ph.D., President of Political Profiler (USA), and President of the Niccolo M Strategic Communications

    "Today, when the world struggles with the ongoing Global Knowledge Warfare, where characters become frequent targets in information operations, the book touches new and critical patterns of contemporary international relations and security studies."

    Holger Mölder, Ph.D., Tallinn University of Technology

    "Too often, new areas of research in communication are too niche and have little relevance to real life. Character Assassination and Reputation Management: Theory and Application avoids those limitations by providing fascinating insights about character assassination. The book fully develops the idea of character assassination and how it has application far beyond politics to other aspects of life. I appreciate the richness of the approach that integrates ideas from a number of fields to illuminate character assassination. There is a strong element of strategic communication that helps to ground the book in application. The section on reputation is an excellent examine of the book’s comprehensive approach. The readers will find a well-reasoned discussion of what reputation management is and its intersection with character assassination. The reader will develops a clear understanding of character assassination and how it can affect their lives from this book."

    W. Timothy Coombs, Professor, Texas A&M

    "The editors have enabled (the matter of) character assassination to develop from a research theme to a full-fledged interdisciplinary field of study, which is of significance concerning the political topicality of the upcoming populism. Character assassination is responsible for the decline of our democratic manners. This book offers the groundwork for a firm positioning of CA-studies within academic education. Students will be made aware of the phenomenon by inserting them into the foundational mechanisms of character assassination: proofing the practical relevance of character assassination research."

    Edwina Hagen, Assistant Professor, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam