Sound Off: PR Played a Role in How Celebrities Discuss Diddy — and the Mogul's Apology

Diddy has long been tied to celebrity culture, and yet the support from them is tied to PR and the public's image of celebs.

Elizabeth Randolph - Author

May 21 2024, Published 12:07 p.m. ET

(l-r): Diddy and Cassie
Source: Getty Images

Rapper and mogul Sean “Diddy” Combs has long had a reputation for being a “celebrity’s celebrity.” Few stars from Diddy’s era don’t have a photo with him at one of his infamous parties or consider him a friend.

In November 2023, Diddy needed a friend after reports about his personal life surfaced.

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Diddy’s ex-girlfriend, singer Cassie Ventura, filed a lawsuit against him, accusing him of rape, human trafficking, and domestic violence charges during their 11-year relationship. They later settled out of court one day later for $30 million. Cassie’s lawsuit resulted in more abuse allegations against Diddy. Then, footage of him attacking Cassie in 2016 went public in May 2024, seemingly confirming everything Cassie accused him of in her lawsuit was true.

To some celebrities, seeing a clip of the abuse Cassie discussed in her lawsuit caused many to stand with her and even speak about their experiences with abuse. While I am glad Cassie is receiving the virtual support she needs, it feels too little too late. Those who always believed her didn’t have to see a video for us to know she was telling the truth.

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Cassie Ventura
Source: Getty Images

Celebrities waited far too long to support Cassie.

Cassie and Diddy's relationship always seemed odd to me due to their significant age difference and her working under his label when they started dating. I remember thinking that his refusal to marry her was frustrating. However, in November 2023, Cassie shed some light on why they didn’t get married after detailing years of abuse. Then, on May 18, 2024, security camera footage from 2016 leaked online, showing Diddy kicking and yelling at Cassie near a hotel elevator while wearing only a towel.

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The disturbing video received strong reactions from celebrities. Emily Ratajkowski called Diddy a “monster,” while those like 50 Cent celebrated what seems to be the fall of a hip-hop empire.

“Now I'm sure Puffy didn't do it; he is innocent, and this proves nothing!” 50 said. “This is what his lawyers are gonna say; God help us all."

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Other celebrities like Kristin Chenoweth used the video to discuss their past with abusive relationships. Outlets like Essence expressed their support for Cassie through touching posts of her past shoots. Amanda Seales and Cree Summer also shared their takes on the situation and declared they were standing with Cassie.

While Essence and 50 have shown Cassie unwavering support (for one reason or another), some of the newfound celebrity comments on the situation now feel hollow. However, it’s still more helpful than the celebrities who refuse to say anything, like Cam’Ron did in his viral May 2024 CNN interview regarding Diddy’s leaked video.

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The allegations against Diddy have been known in the entertainment industry for decades.

Years before Cassie’s lawsuit surfaced, rumors about Diddy’s alleged abusive acts were widespread. Several people, including his former bodyguard Gene Deal, accused him of being violent with women, including his ex Kim Porter, who died of pneumonia in 2018.

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In 2022, Gene wrote a book called My World of Bodyguarding a Hip-Hop Star: The Last Big Night, where he gave his accounts of seeing the alleged abuse firsthand. Deal’s book and the interviews he’s done since were considered gossip and barely had the attention Diddy’s allegations have now.

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TMZ’s April 2024 documentary TMZ Presents: The Downfall of Diddy also highlighted years of Diddy’s criminal past dating back to his involvement in a celebrity basketball game and concert at City College of New York, which left nine people dead and 29 injured.

Celebrities have always been the tastemakers of American society. They are the ones who say when something is trending and what needs the “little people’s” attention. So, in Diddy’s case, it’s odd how those closest to him and who helped him in his career were silent before and after Cassie’s lawsuit.

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In The Downfall of Diddy, Marc Lamont Hill gave insight into why Hollywood remained silent for so long. It has everything to do with maintaining their celebrity image.

“Hollywood is eerily quiet about all of the Diddy controversy,” Marc said in the doc. “And it’s because people in glass houses don’t want to throw stones.”

Diddy speaking at an event
Source: Getty Images
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Diddy’s apology video to Cassie shows his obsession with his public image.

Despite the lack of support from his peers, Diddy maintained his innocence throughout Cassie’s lawsuit. However, more allegations soon followed, including from music producer Rodney “Lil Rod” Jones, who worked with Diddy on his 2022 project Love.

In his lawsuit, Rodney claimed he was sexually assaulted by his former boss, stating he “was the victim of constant unsolicited and unauthorized groping and touching of his anus by Mr. Combs.” In a December 2023 Instagram post, after two more people accused him of abusing them, Diddy denied the allegations and said the people taking legal action against him were “looking for a quick payday.”

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The 2016 leaked video forced Diddy to change his tune. On May 19, 2024, he posted an Instagram video in which he took responsibility for his actions and said he was “truly sorry” for his behavior.

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"It's so difficult to reflect on the darkest times in your life,” Diddy said. “Sometimes you gotta do that. I was f----- up. I mean, I hit rock bottom, but I make no excuses. My behavior on that video is inexcusable."

"I take full responsibility for my actions in that video,” he continued. "Disgusted. I was disgusted then when I did it, I'm disgusted now. I went and I sought out professional help, going to therapy, going to rehab. I had to ask God for his mercy and grace. I'm so sorry, but I'm committed to being a better man. Each and every day.”

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While Diddy acknowledged his wrongdoings, he waited until he had no choice but to admit his faults. Before the video, he and his legal team incessantly denied the abuse, a fact that Cassie’s lawyer Meredith Firetog pointed out to People.

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“When Cassie and multiple other women came forward, he denied everything and suggested that his victims were looking for a payday,” Firetog addressed. “That he was only compelled to ‘apologize’ once his repeated denials were proven false shows his pathetic desperation, and no one will be swayed by his disingenuous words.”

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Multiple online commenters felt the same as Firetog and questioned if Diddy was sincerely sorry for what he did. It’s possible two things are true: Diddy is remorseful and has had time to reflect on his actions, and apologizing to Cassie makes him look better.

Though many feel his image is forever tarnished, the industry has previously given many abusers second, even third chances after a scandal. However, Diddy's reckoning remains in an age where the economy and global war have made us slightly more detached from Hollywood’s glitz and glamour.

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