What started as a conservative response to a same-sex marriage question turned into Miss California Carrie Prejean not winning the Miss USA title, and now possibly losing her Miss California title. As we told you about yesterday, naked photos of Prejean have surfaced (though only a rather safe PG-13 shot has turned up … so far), which could be in direct violation of her contract with Miss California USA prohibits Prejean from being “photographed in a state of partial or total nudity.” Prejean claims they were “modeling” shots, taken by someone she believed to be representing Victoria’s Secret. But the photos are likely to cost her, well, everything, including her reputation.
Already, one of the only organizations who rallied around her — the National Organization for Marriage — quickly backed off from its association with Prejean after she filmed an anti-gay marriage ad for them. NOM’s swift backtracking begs the question: Did they know the photos were coming and want to distance their cause from the sexy photo scandal?
The photos not only could cost Prejean her Miss California title, but also the well-paying speaking deals she was hoping to line up. It doesn’t make sense for conservative groups to hire her to speak when she’s a web a hypocrisies: traditional values good and gay marriage bad, but posing for naked photos … good? (Of course, this isn’t the first set of erotic pics.)
Prejean’s only means of reputation resuscitation at this point? Blame the media. But she’s already tried that, to limited results. Making herself the victim of media persecution can work. But not always, as Hillary Clinton learned during her presidential bid. Prejean’s beauty and naivety might work in her favor. So, too, could the support of right-y voices like Bill O’Reilly and Rush Limbaugh.
Responding to the brewing photos scandal, Prejean said in a statement:
On April 19, I chose to answer a question during the 2009 Miss USA pageant in an honest and personal manner that expressed my views of the long-established definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman. That answer, and my commitment to stand by my beliefs, has since resulted in attacks on me and my integrity as a woman. We live in a great country; a nation that was built on freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Yet my comments defending traditional marriage have led to intimidation tactics that seek to undermine my reputation and somehow silence me and my beliefs, as if opinion is only a one-way street.
I am a Christian, and I am a model. Models pose for pictures, including lingerie and swimwear photos. Recently, photos taken of me as a teenager have been released surreptitiously to a tabloid Web site that openly mocks me for my Christian faith. I am not perfect, and I will never claim to be. But these attacks on me and others who speak in defense of traditional marriage are intolerant and offensive. While we may not agree on every issue, we should show respect for others’ opinions and not try to silence them through vicious and mean-spirited attacks.
With that in mind, I will continue to support and defend marriage as the honorable institution it is. I will continue to stand with the overwhelming majority of the American people and the voters of my home state of California. If this whole experience has taught me anything, it is our precious right to speak freely, and how we as Americans can never allow anyone or any group to intimidate or threaten us to keep silent.
UPDATE: Prejean’s reps are circulating a bit of information claiming the photos were snapped when Prejean was she was 17. (Prejean’s statement above says they were “taken of me as a teenager.”) Except entertainment reporter Alicia Jacobs says the photos were taken only about six weeks ago, which explains why the breast enlargement is visible; her breasts would’ve been much smaller at age 17, pre-surgery. Here’s the statement we received from Prejean’s publicist Kristin U. Cole at A. Larry Ross Communications: “I saw that Queerty.com has posted a recently released photo of Carrie Prejean. These photos were taken when Carrie was a naive 17 year old, just starting out in modeling, when she mistakenly believed an agent that said she could be the next Victoria’s Secret super model if she would submit such photos.”