Mel Gibson's Tuesday apology for an anti-Semitic rant after his drunken driving arrest came several days too late, celebrity crisis management experts say.
It was the star's first acknowledgment that he spewed anti-Jewish slurs at Los Angeles County Sheriff's Deputy James Mee early Friday - a tirade that could threaten his career and the December release of his film "Apocalypto," in which he and Disney invested tens of millions of dollars.
"In the first 24 hours, people start forming opinions," said Richard Levick, whose Washington firm represents several celebrity clients. "He has constantly been behind the story and needs to get out front. What he's done through actions is turned perception into reality. People presume he is anti-Semitic."
The cloud of anti-Semitism has followed Gibson since the 2004 film "The Passion of the Christ," which many Jews felt unfairly portrayed Jews' role in the death of Jesus. The issue intensified after interviews with Gibson's father, who called the Holocaust mostly "fiction."