Author - Lecturer - Strategic Communications Adviser - Consultant

Life Lessons Gleaned from This Major Celebrity Scandal

June 1, 2024

We shouldn’t be overawed when others grow rich.

On May 28, Rolling Stones released a bombshell expose on Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs and the in-depth reporting has once again set the internet ablaze. Combs has been heavily covered in the media since a November 2023 lawsuit by Casandra ‘Cassie’ Ventura alleging horrific abuse including sex trafficking. The coverage waned and then on May 17, CNN released disturbing footage appearing to show Combs viciously beating Ventura in a hotel lobby. Combs was once again the subject of discussion and debate. But on May 30, two critical things occurred; CNN reported that federal investigators were interviewing witnesses and preparing to take the case to a grand jury and Rolling Stones released a detailed story, the culmination of 6 months of investigative journalism.

It is important to note that as of this writing, Combs has not been charged with a crime and maintains his innocence. And as I reflect on this, here are several life lessons gleaned from this disturbing series of events.

  1. We shouldn’t be overawed when others grow rich. It is easy to celebrate when people obtain wealth or when their wealth increases. I’ve said before that we can confer on celebrities or wealthy people character that they haven’t earned and don’t deserve. Wealth is an indicator that one has figured out how to monetize a product. It isn’t an indicator of character, morality, or right standing with God. It is crucial we learn to see past what a person possesses and evaluate them based on their demonstrated character. Better still is to honor the people we do know when they haven proven themselves to be honorable.
  2. People praise you when you prosper. For decades, Combs had a series of people around him and proximate to him who celebrated his every move. He was praised by media outlets that are influential in Black culture such as BET. He earned a “Key to the City” in New York City. He was celebrated and his accomplishments coveted. It wasn’t until the last 2-5 years that more people began to talk about his alleged misdeeds. We can’t evaluate a person’s character by how others respond to them when they are at the pinnacle of their careers. We should evaluate a person by how people respond to them when they have very little.
  3. We will all experience accountability. It took years for people to feel comfortable speaking up about Combs’ alleged abuse. It took decades for many in the media to write truthful stories about Combs. When Wendy Williams tried to highlight what she saw, she was allegedly fired, bullied and derided. And although it’s taken a long time, it appears Combs will be held responsible for his misdeeds. And not just Combs. Each of us will have a day where we are held accountable for the things we’ve done. That is why it is important to live with integrity and to try our best to do right by all people. Additionally, as closely as some of us are watching this story, we should be similarly watching and monitoring our own lives.
  4. Not even good publicity could fix this. In moments like this, people like to say, “where are the publicists?” I’ve mentioned this before but publicists cannot control a person’s behavior. Publicists are not babysitters nor are they the final arbiter on what a person does and doesn’t do. To have influence, the publicist must have a good relationship with the client and the client’s inner circle, including their manage and spouse/partner. But even then, everyone has free will. What is more, if the publicist has a narcissistic and abusive client, the client may attempt to force the publicist to do things that are on unseemly. The publicist will then oblige or end the relationship. The bottom line is that we are each responsible for ourselves and there are limits to what a publicist can accomplish. And even a string of positive stories wouldn’t change public perception around who Combs has proven himself to be.
  5. Society rightly demands justice. There is something about human nature that demands and honors justice. When the public feels like justice has been served, they will celebrate. When the opposite is true, the public will yearn for accountability and justice. This story is fueled by who Combs is, what he is accused of, and a public demand for justice. It doesn’t matter who the person is; society rightly demands justice.








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"I have decided to show up fully and authentically. I trust you will do the same. May you find what you need in one of these books."Jennifer R. FarmerExtraordinary PR, Ordinary Budget: A Step-by-Step Guide. Order now from Berrett Koehler or your favorite book seller.   First and Only" was published by Broadleaf Books in February 2021. Order your copy at BroadLeaf Books or your favorite bookseller.


Jennifer R. Farmer is an author, trainer and small-business owner. She is the host of the award-winning United Methodist Women “Faith Talks” podcast, which offers spiritual growth content for women of faith. Farmer is also the author of “First and Only: A Black Woman’s Guide to Thriving at Work and in Life” (Broadleaf Books) and “Extraordinary PR, Ordinary Budget: A Strategy Guide” (Berrett-Koehler Publishers). She is the founder of Spotlight PR LLC, a boutique firm specializing in communications strategy for leaders and groups committed to social and racial justice. She is also the founder of the Center for Social Justice Leadership, which exists to support leaders and organizations in creating more inclusive workplace cultures. Farmer has provided services to national organizations and celebrities committed to addressing the climate crisis, as well as social and racial injustice.

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When we worked together in the Forward Together Moral Monday movement, Jennifer Farmer skillfully heard me. She allowed me to be myself, while teaching me and the NC NAACP staff foundational communications techniques.

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