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  You are Here: Home :: Famous Apologies :: Public Apologies  

Public Apologies

Making public apologies is a consequence of being in the public eye and making mistakes is a part of being human. So when that mistake is broadcast across the media, so must be the apology—and the last few months and years are a testament to being human and apologizing. Just ask the Pope, Mel Gibson, Tom Cruise, Mark Foley, Michael Richards, Miss America (Tara Conner) …. and the list goes on and on...

There have been so many masterfully crafted public apologies by various personalities in the last several months that before we even finished discussing Tom Cruise's apology to Brooke Shields over her use of anti-depressants to control postpartum depression, Mark Foley came along with an 'apology' delivered by his lawyers for his sexual antics over email.

The statement claimed that he was gay, abused by a clergyman as a teenager, and had problems with alcohol—it remains a mystery to most intelligent observers how any of this is even remotely relevant to engaging underage congressional pages in sexually explicit computer messages.

Some major mistakes, such as Mel Gibson's anti-Semitic remarks to the California police officers, are apparently not that difficult to correct—his new movie Apocalypto is doing very well despite the public backlash against his remarks.

Other mistakes however, can be extremely difficult to correct—such as Pope Benedict XVI's obscure quotation from a 14th-Century Christian emperor in a speech at a German university in September, 2006.

"Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached."

The Pope was accused of insulting followers of the Islamic faith and, more importantly, the Prophet Mohammed himself for violent elements within Islam.

Keep in mind that almost all of these celebrities and public figures have spin doctors and well-paid publicists backed by huge public relations firms. That is why their public apologies are so fascinating to witness. If these people and their experts miss the mark sometimes then what hope is there for us? Even the largest public relations firms will mess up occasionally and overlook the straightforward strategies outlined in this web site.

Not all of the public apologies we witnessed in the last few years were ineffective, some did seem sincere and genuinely heartfelt, but most illustrated the fine art of avoiding an apology—they failed to include many of the ingredients reviewed in other sections of this website.

The most notable "non-apology" in 2006 goes to Rush Limbaugh and his efforts to backtrack after confronting Michael J. Fox for "exaggerating the effects of Parkinson's disease."

"…I will bigly, hugely admit that I was wrong, and I will apologize to Michael J. Fox if I am wrong in characterizing his behavior on this commercial as an act."

In other words, IF I am wrong I will apologize. Of course, there is really no obvious and easy way to confirm or refute the thesis, so the issue died. Rush Limbaugh lost very few supporters as a result of this mistake, and even less sleep.

As far as we're concerned, we couldn't have asked for better times as far as public apologies go. We were able to learn so much from how these public figures handled their situations and were reminded that to err is human AND frequent.

Or, read an interesting article on...
John Kerry and Political Apologies.

Or, return from...
Public Apologies to Famous Apologies


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