De’Andre Johnson’s interview with Michael Strahan was a shrewd PR move


De’Andre Johnson opened up to Michael Strahan on Good Morning America.

De’Andre Johnson recently sat down with Michael Strahan for an exclusive interview on Good Morning America. It was Johnson’s first official address to the media since being dismissed from the Florida State Seminoles football program after footage surfaced of him punching a woman in the face at a Tallahassee bar.

In the interview, a contrite Johnson, flanked by his mother, answered several questions about the incident while also offering an apology to the woman he struck.



World News

Let’s set aside, for a moment, Johnson’s actions, whether or not the woman has any culpability if, in fact, she did hurl a racial epithet, and any discussion about if/when the embattled quarterback deserves a second chance. Instead, let’s focus on the interview itself.

Choosing to open up to Michael Strahan, via an interview that would first air on GMA, was the most shrewdly performed PR move Johnson will ever make in his entire life. Strahan will forever be an NFL sack master in the minds of men, so he is immediately met with credibility from the male audience. However, he is also the co-host of Live! with Kelly and Michael, and recently did a turn in Magic Mike XXL – thus owning the female audience.

Beyond that, the interview didn’t hammer home the hard questions. Strahan allowed Johnson to bypass a question of whether he had been drinking that evening. He asked Johnson only if the player had ever been physical with women, as opposed to if he routinely got in fights while away from the field (with either men or women). In Strahan, Johnson wouldn’t be painted as a habitual woman-beater by an aggressive interviewer, and he’d also be seen in a softer light thanks to the line of questions and Strahan’s popularity with the female demographic.

It was also a smart play to have Johnson’s mother beside him. She humanized her son. He became more than a security video knockout reel. By showcasing the affect Johnson’s actions, as well as the resulting fallout, had on his mother, a new victim was added to the story. Attention was diverted from the woman who was punched in the face towards the shame of a saddened parent. De’Andre Johnson wasn’t raised like that. Viewers are steered to believe that the 30-second clip of him punching a woman is a wild exception to the individual he truly is.

And finally, the roundup at segment’s end worked beautifully in Johnson’s favor. Strahan mentioned how Johnson would continue earning his education (hard to fault a person for chasing his education), is volunteering at a battered women’s shelter (looking to make amends), and has owned up to his actions (shows maturity). All while Robin Roberts painted a balanced picture and questioned who was genuinely to blame.

However things shake out for Johnson, he crafted the perfect environment in which to tell his story.