I often comment during media trainings that it is difficult to find really good apologies and for that reason I blog about them when I find them. This week provides me with a good one to share with you. The clip below is an apology from Martin Bashir to Sarah Palin after he made some very offensive statements.
I’m not going to get into the reasons for the necessity of the statement (you can read the back story here). This blog post is about the rhetoric used in his apology, not the need for the apology in the first place. The text of his statement is below:
“Last Friday, on this broadcast, I made some comments which were deeply offensive and directed at Governor Sarah Palin. I wanted to take this opportunity to say sorry to Mrs. Palin and to also offer an unreserved apology to her friends and family, her supporters, our viewers, and anyone who may have heard what I said.
My words were wholly unacceptable. They were neither accurate, nor fair. They were unworthy of anyone who would claim to have an interest in politics, and they have brought shame upon my friends and colleagues at this network, none of whom were responsible for the things that I said. And at a place where we try every day to elevate political discourse and to focus on issues that matter to all of us.
My hope is that it will renew in me a spirit of humility and humanity, that looks for the good and that builds upon the great things that this country has to offer to all of us, regardless of our political persuasion. This will be my guiding light and compass in the days ahead. But once again, I am truly sorry for what I said on Friday.”
My biggest complaints with apologies during a crisis are that they usually don’t truly accept responsibility for the situation and they often fall short of addressing the enormity of the situation. An apology needs to be appropriately pithy (over emoting is never a good thing) but still address the hurt created. The litmus test for a good apology is not whether you like the statement and level of atonement, but instead if it resonates with your intended audience. This stopped being all about you when the hurt occurred.
Thoughts on Martin’s statement?