Mariah Carey and the Art of the Disaster

For all the confusion, charges, and countercharges surrounding Mariah Carey’s ill-fated New Year’s Eve performance, one thing has now become clear: Team Mariah is waging an all-out war to ensure that she does not become the next Janet Jackson.

Ms. Carey’s representative could have taken the predictable route of issuing a statement defending its star and then moving on. Instead her manager has heaped blame on the producers of ABC’s “Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve With Ryan Seacrest,” including an extraordinary, profanity-laden interview with Entertainment Weekly.

The implicit takeaway from these fireworks is that Ms. Carey’s allies are bent on protecting her reputation so that her career does not suffer like Ms. Jackson’s after her infamous “wardrobe malfunction” at the 2004 Super Bowl halftime performance.

To understand the strategy of the Carey camp, let’s walk through the events in question — including the strong denials of the show’s producers that they did anything wrong. Below is a blow-by-blow analysis that illuminates the stakes for Ms. Carey and the producers.

The night of: what happened?

The aftermath: Ms. Carey shrugs

By 2 a.m. on Sunday, Ms. Carey’s Twitter account posted a response to the social media maelstrom that had exploded since the just-before-midnight performance.

“Have a happy and healthy new year everybody!,” she wrote. “Here’s to making more headlines in 2017.”

The account moved on to promoting Ms. Carey’s reality series on E!, which, coincidentally, was airing that night.

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