APOLOGY UPDATE: Mattel Apology for Chinese Toys of Death, Part II

After apologizing to the parents and children of the world for importing potentially dangerous toys manufactured in China, Mattel apologized again last week …  but this time the apology was to CHINA!

That’s right:

Mattel,
the world’s largest toy maker, apologized in China yesterday for its
recalls of nearly 20 million Chinese-made toys this summer.


According to news accounts, Thomas A. Debrowski, Mattel’s executive
vice president for worldwide operations, apologized to China for
harming the reputation of Chinese manufacturers.
( NY Times)

Mattel apologized to China for “harming the reputation of Chinese manufacturers” by recalling dangerous and defective toys made by Chinese manufacturers!

There is a word for that kind of behavior, isn’t there? A word they use in China? Can anyone think of it?

American politicians and others reacted in turn with criticism that
Mattel was kowtowing to China, where the company manufactures 65
percent of its toys, many in partnerships with Chinese vendors.

Kowtow. Yes, that’s it!

Of course, there is more to the story than that. For instance, official Chinese accounts of Mr. Debrowski’s mission vary from what Mattel itself says:

Mattel challenged the news accounts of Mr. Debrowski’s meeting in
Beijing, saying that they had mischaracterized his remarks. Mattel sent
Mr. Debrowski to the meeting to apologize to consumers in China, not to
manufacturers there, a spokeswoman said.

Mattel said in a
statement: “Since Mattel toys are sold the world over, Mattel
apologized to the Chinese today just as it has wherever its toys are
sold.”

Mr. Debrowski’s remarks were not intended to address harm
that has come to the reputation of Chinese-made products as Mattel and
other companies recalled millions of toys, the spokeswoman said.

Hmm. Well, I can see how that misunderstanding could arise. Kind of like the way official Chinese accounts of the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre differ from those of … pretty much everyone else on Earth. The Chinese government lives in its own little world.

Dangerous toys? What dangerous toys? Actually, China has a point:

In a draft of the remarks that Mr. Debrowski planned to make at the
meeting, he clarified that 17.4 million of the nearly 20 million units
recalled this summer were magnetic toys. Those toys, though produced in
China, were recalled because of a design mistake by Mattel.

“Mattel
does not hold Chinese manufacturers responsible for the design in
relation to the recalled magnet toys,” according to Mr. Debrowski’s
planned remarks, which Mattel released.

When Mattel recalled the
magnetic toys in mid-August, the company said that those recalls were
not caused by Chinese vendors, separating them from the more than 80
other styles of toys that were recalled because they were tainted with
lead paint.

See Mattel’s response and the text of Debrowski’s remarks on the Mattel website.

Mattel still relies on their Chinese vendors to manufacture their toys and no doubt will continue to do so. Presumably they also need to maintain the goodwill of the Chinese government to continue to do business there. So this “maybe an apology, maybe not” exercise was important for Mattel. The magnet toys were not in any way the fault of the Chinese vendors. As for the lead paint …

On the other side, it is to China’s advantage to receive Mattel’s apology. Months of attention to various dangerous and defective products coming out of China have damaged the country’s reputation.

BEIJING ( Reuters) – China highlighted Mattel’s apology over its recall
of huge numbers of toys on Monday to press Beijing’s claim that its
exports are generally safe and foreign politicians and media have
unfairly hyped quality scares.

According to Eric Johnson, a management professor at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth:

By emphasizing a public apology by Mattel, China gains a public relations advantage, experts said. “This is all about saving face and a private apology wouldn’t have done that for China. They really needed this public apology,” Johnson said. (Washington Post)

See also comments by Rick Newman at his Flowchart blog on USNews.com:

Mattel messed up, but now the company is bringing a welcome degree of
transparency to an issue that seems complex and murky to most of us. So
hurry up and pay attention, before the politicians and fearmongers
muddle it up.

I guess the world really is flat.

APOLOGY UPDATE: Michael Vick Apology Auction

Remember the Michael Vick apology for the whole dogfighting mess? Well, it seems that when Michael left the podium after delivering his apology, he left his notes behind. Or, at least notes someone prepared for him. On hotel stationery, no less.

The Humane Society of the United States is now conducting an ebay auction of Vick’s purported notes, with  proceeds to go towards eliminating dogfighting and other forms of animal cruelty. From the auction page:

This
sheet of paper was discarded at the podium after Michael Vick’s apology
on August 28th, 2007 at the Omni Hotel in Richmond. Found by an HSUS
employee, it appears to be Vick’s own talking points from his first
public statement after his guilty plea for crimes related to
dogfighting.

Ironically, Vick never got to the last three words, “dogs have suffered”, which had clearly been added as an afterthought.

This
piece of memorabilia culminates the nation’s most notorious celebrity
cruelty case. It is a symbol of the downfall of a superstar’s career
but also of the historical event that brought light to the cruel and
illegal business of dogfighting in America.

On his own blog, Humane Society CEO Wayne Pacelle explaining how HSUS came to possess the notes:

With dozens of reporters jammed into the press room at the Omni
Hotel in Richmond, it was The HSUS’s own Chad Sisneros, head of our
Video Services section, who in looking to retrieve his microphone saw
the abandoned scrap of paper and picked it up. 

He could hardly believe the irony, once he saw what it was. Nor could I.

Now we are in possession of this little piece of memorabilia in perhaps the nation’s most notorious celebrity cruelty case. 

The paper had a series of bullet points, numbered, from #1 to #6.
Apologize, Forgiveness, Full Responsibility, Mistakes, Young kids,
judgment.

Pacelle goes on to note what that there was a 7th talking point scrawled at the end of the list, an apparent afterthought, that Vick did not mention: “Dogs have suffered.”

As it was, a man who made a living by methodically marching down the
field, one play at a time, didn’t get far enough down the page to
express contrition on the central question raised by his conduct. He
quick kicked, and got out of that hotel room–revealing that he still
may not get what was so wrong with his behavior. The biggest apology of
all was left unspoken–to the dogs who suffered and who died so horribly
at his hand.

As of today, bidding on the notes has reached $10,100. Proceeds will go to the Humane Society’s Animal Cruelty Response and Reward Fund.  The auction ends September 14.

Your chance to help animals and own a sordid scrap of apology history.

APOLOGY UPDATE: Another Take on Michael Vick Apology

Michael Ventre offers another take on Michael Vick’s apology for his involvement in illegal dogfighting in commentary at MSNBC.com, feeling that Vick glossed over the main point:

Vick’s brief apology Monday wasn’t scripted, but it was coached. Vick
stood at a podium without notes and hit all the damage-control talking
points: “forgiveness and understanding,” “bad judgment,” “very
immature,” “role model” and “Jesus,” closing with the always popular,
“I will redeem myself.”



He said this: “Dogfighting is a terrible thing and I do reject it.”

That was the one false note. That was the one flubbed line.

And that was the most important point of them all.

This
entire scandal is, after all, about dogfighting. It’s a cruel,
inhumane, despicable practice, and Vick blew well over $100 million and
possibly his entire football career because of his lust for it.

There
are millions of people out there who are irate over Vick’s treatment of
the pit bulls that he tortured and killed. They wanted to hear his
thoughts on dogfighting. They wanted to know how he could ever have
gotten involved in such a thing, how he could justify starving animals
to make them more ornery in the ring, and most of all, why exactly he
and his cohorts had to inflict horrific acts upon dogs he felt didn’t
live up to his standards.

This is all about dogfighting, but you wouldn’t have known it from the
offhand remark he tossed out Monday during a cameo appearance
choreographed to begin the massive repair job on his reputation.
( MSNBC.com)

Mark Purdy at the San Jose Mercury News thinks Vick will definitely play again in the NFL (sadly, I agree …) and  muses on lessons to be learned from the whole Vick mess, including this:

We learned that if you
allow athletes to blame others for their mess, they will always try.
That was the only part of Monday’s Vick apology that rang hollow. He
claimed that he had always “accepted responsibility” for his actions.
Huh? Early on, Vick tried to pin everything on his buddies, claiming he
didn’t know what they’d been doing with his money. That was not just
wrong, but stupid. When Vick’s pals saw he was going to let them take
the entire rap, they turned state’s evidence.
(San Jose Mercury News)

First, interesting that for Ventre “Dogfighting is a terrible thing” was the one false note, while for Purdy the only part that rang hollow was Vick saying he accepted responsibility for his actions. I want to comment on the latter point.

I hadn’t paid much attention to the whole saga, just waiting for the eventual and inevitable apology, to know to what extent Vick tried to pin it all on his buddies at the outset. But one common reaction in the slew of “locals react to Vick apology” articles has been that Vick is only sorry that he got caught. Which I’m sure has an element of truth. I doubt Vick would have come to the epiphany that “Dogfighting is a terrible thing” on his own had he not gotten caught.

On the other hand, that dismissal of Vick’s remorse misses the point. Getting called to account for your misdeeds — getting “caught”– is often a necessary precondition for contrition, is it not? If you are particularly gifted at unflinching self-examination, have a highly developed conscience, posses a low tolerance for self-rationalization and are blessed with a profound capacity for moral reasoning you might, on your own, without anyone else pointing out the error of your ways, reach the conclusion that what you are doing wrong (whatever that may be) is in fact wrong, feel remorse for your misdeeds and resolve to change your ways without any outside prompting or coercion. But if you are that morally advanced you’re probably Buddha. You’re not running a dog-fighting ring.

The rest of us often need help admitting that we’re doing wrong. It is only when forced to confront the consequences of our actions that we begin to let go of our rationalizations and self-justifications. They say the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. But the step before that may be someone else calling that problem to your attention so that you have no choice but to admit it. A federal indictment certainly gets one’s attention. But it need not be so drastic, and my point is not limited to crimes in the legal sense.

Whenever you’re doing wrong, you probably know it. But you’ll keep doing it so long as you can get away with it. You’ll find all kinds of excuses for yourself. As long as you’re suffering no consequences, why not?

Until you get caught. And, again, maybe it’s your own conscience that catches you. Maybe you have one of those “road to Damascus” moments (talk about getting caught …). Maybe you get arrested or indicted, if what you’re doing is bad enough. For the non-criminals (and I hope that is most of you Apologists), it is perhaps something less dramatic … but suddenly you’re exposed! Caught red-handed! There is nowhere to hide! No denying it!

Now … are you sorry you got caught? Of course!

Are you ONLY sorry because you got caught? Probably at first.

And maybe you’ll go right back to doing what you were doing when the heat is off … I think that’s the idea being expressed when people say “He’s only sorry he got caught.”

BUT … maybe you actually do learn from your mistakes. Maybe you do reflect and go on to feel genuine remorse as you recognize the consequences of your actions, not for yourself, but for other people. Maybe you truly resolve to become a better person. To redeem yourself. Maybe you actually accomplish that.

It happens. A lot of criminals come out of prison and commit new crimes. But some really do emerge as changed people and turn their lives around.

Sometimes “finding religion” is just an act or a ploy to gain sympathy. But sometimes those conversions are real.

Is Michael Vick sorry he got caught? I’m sure he is. I’m sure he’s sorry he’s lost his NFL salary and his endorsement contracts. I’m sure he’s sorry he faces prison time.

Has he mentally, morally, spiritually, whatever taken the next step of feeling genuine remorse for his actions and for the harm he caused others — his boss, his teammates, his fans, the children, and those poor dogs?

We don’t know. Only Vick knows. We can hear his words of apology … but only his future actions will tell the real story.

APOLOGY UPDATE: Michael Vick Pleads Guilty, Apologizes for His Dog-Killing Ways

Loathsome dog-killing thug and Atlanta Falcons ex-quarterback Michael Vick today entered his guilty plea in federal court to a conspiracy charge related to a federal dogfighting investigation, as expected. USA Today has audio and provides a rough transcript. Let’s break it down like … oh, I don’t know … Vick’s NFL career:

For most of my life, I’ve been a football player, not a public speaker,
so I really don’t know how to say what I really want to say. … I’ll
take this opportunity just to speak from the heart
.

Tell it, Michael!

First I want to apologize for all the things that I’ve done and that
I’ve allowed to happen.

Now that’s a good blanket apology. Cover all your bases up front.

I want to personally apologize to commissioner
Goodell, Arthur Blank, coach Bobby Petrino and my Atlanta Falcons
teammates for our previous discussions that we had. I was not honest
and forthright in our discussions. I was ashamed and totally
disappointed in myself to say the least.

Translation: I lied. I lied like a dead dog in a ditch. A dead dog I probably put there. Clearly he owes these particular people apologies. He has damaged the reputation of the NFL and the Falcons organization. He has cost team owner Arthur Blank a lot of money. He has let down his teammates. So, yes, they all deserve a contrite shout-out.

I want to apologize to all the young kids out there for my immature
acts.

Good. Kids do tend to look up to sports stars and Vick has not set the best example, has he.

What I did was very immature, so that means I need to grow up.

Well, his logic is flawless.

I totally ask for forgiveness and understanding as I move forward to
bettering Michael Vick the person, not the football player.

That’s nice. You should get plenty of time to reflect on your shortcoming while you are IN PRISON.

I take full
responsibility for my actions. Not for one second will I sit right here
and point the finger and try to blame anybody else for my actions or
what I’ve done. I’m totally responsible, and those things just didn’t
have to happen.

Yes, considering that all your thug buddies rolled over on you and sang to the Feds like a choir of canaries, it is probably best to accept responsibility. Which is kind of what a guilty plea is all about.

I feel like we all make mistakes. I made a mistake in using bad
judgment and making bad decisions. Those things just can’t happen.

He’s right. We all make mistakes. I make mistakes. My mistakes don’t involve financing an illegal dog fighting operation and cruelly executing innocent canines that don’t fight well enough and thereby flushing a $150 million career down the toilet, but we all make mistakes.

Incidentally, while this isn’t quite the passive immaculate “mistakes were made” tense, it comes close … trying to wrap the apologizer’s misdeeds up in the truism that nobody is perfect. I’m not just busting on Vick here. It is VERY hard for anyone to just straight up apologize and take full responsibility. The vast majority of apologies contain at least some element of excuse, mitigating circumstances, evasion or “other people do bad things to.”

Dogfighting is a terrible thing and I do reject it. …

“Dogfighting is a terrible thing.” This is just priceless. This should be printed on T-shirts. Or Ron Mexico jerseys.

Through this situation I found Jesus and asked him for forgiveness
and turned my life over to God. I think that’s the right thing to do as
of right now.

A lot of people do seem to find Jesus behind bars. (Including Paris Hilton!). It is easy to view these jail house conversions with skepticism. On the other hand, people behind bars are highly motivated to take a long hard look at their lives and how they got to be where they are … which is the right mindset for finding Jesus. If Vick is sincere and truly contrite, good for him.

Like I said, through this entire situation I never pointed the
finger at anybody else. I accepted responsibility for my actions and
what I did. And now I have to pay the consequences for it. But in a
sense, I think it will help me as a person. I got a lot to think about
over the next year or so.

In prison.

I offer my deepest apologies to everybody out there in the world who
was affected by this whole situation.

In case he missed anyone earlier.

If I’m more disappointed with
myself than anything, it’s because all the young people, young kids
that I’ve let down, who look at Michael Vick as a role model. So I have
to go through this, and put myself in this situation. I hope every
young kid out there in the world watching this interview who’s been
following this case will use me as an example for using better judgment
and making better decisions.

I can’t quarrel with this. Remember, kids, dogfighting is a terrible thing.

Once again, I offer my deepest apologies to everyone.

I will redeem myself. I have to. I’ve got a lot of downtime, a lot
of time to think about my actions and what I’ve done

In prison.

and how to make
Michael Vick a better person. Thank you.
(USA Today)

Hopefully young Mr. Vick has learned a valuable lesson. We shall see.

APOLOGY UPDATE: Sony Apology to Church of England

There have been a couple of volleys in the dust-up between Sony and the good Anglican Bishop of Manchester since we last checked in. So let’s bring you up to date. As you will recall, Sony produced a video game called Resistance: Fall of Man which involves battles between military units and creepy aliens across a post-apocalyptic Europe. One shootout scene was set in a digital representation of the Manchester Cathedral. The Bishop of Manchester took exception to this and demanded an apology … and a a payoff! … from Sony. Shortly thereafter Sony apologized. We assessed it as a pro forma “get off my back” apology. And there we left things in June.

If you didn’t see this coming, you haven’t been paying attention. The good bishop deemed Sony’s first apology insufficiently contrite. After various meetings and consultations, Sony put on the figurative ashes and sackcloth to grovel in true Medieval style:

SONY has apologised `unreservedly’ to the people of Manchester for
using the city’s Anglican cathedral as a backdrop to bloodshed in a
PlayStation 3 game. …

Sony has admitted offending the cathedral congregation and the wider
community in a letter sent to the M.E.N. It has also placed an advert
in today’s paper to express regret.

Dr David A Reeves,
president of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, said: “It is clear to
us that the connection between the congregation and the cathedral is a
deeply personal and spiritual one.

“As a result, it is also clear that we have
offended some of the congregation by using the cathedral in our science
fiction game. It was never our intention to offend anyone in the making
of this game, and we would like to apologise unreservedly to them for
causing that offence, and to all parts of the community who we might
also have offended.”

Dr Reeves also said the firm would ensure that Manchester Cathedral was not used in any of its games again.
(“Sony says ‘sorry’,” Manchester Evening News)

Well, did that do it the second time around?

You already know the answer, don’t you?

MANCHESTER, England, July 6 (UPI) — The clergy at Manchester Cathedral
says Sony’s apology for using images of the venerable British church in
a video game isn’t enough. (
“Church says Sony apology falls short,” PoliticalGateway.com)

Now, Apology Index is by no means a scientifically comprehensive review of all apologies everywhere. But based on our small sample of two apology demands involving religious figures — this Sony case and the Apology Crisis in the Punjab! — religious leaders seem to be particularly picky about which apologies they will accept. Which, on the one hand, seems odd — aren’t they in the forgiveness business?

But, on the other hand, makes perfect sense — they are also in the contrition business and they know a not up to snuff apology when they see it!

A more cynical point of view would be that clergy know that they’ve got at least a presumption of the moral high ground in almost any dispute — especially with a big multinational corporation — and can afford to be exacting in their demands. And what are the clergy of Manchester’s demands. Grab a pen and paper:


The cathedral’s lawyers are still “in conversation” with lawyer’s at Sony over
the Dean of Manchester’s demand that the game, a PS3 “shooter” called
Resistance: Fall of Man, be withdrawn.


And cathedral clergy are also demanding a response from Sony to their request
for a donation to their work with young people and the victims of gun crime.
(“Manchester Cathedral says Sony apology not enough and issues new digital rules,” Times Online)

To get the full effect, you’ve got to read this quote from the Dean of Manchester aloud in your best Marlon Brando Godfather imitation:


Dean of Manchester, the Very Rev Rogers Govender, said: “We asked Sony to
apologise unreservedly to the Cathedral and wider community for the offence
caused. This they have done.


“We asked them to withdraw the game. They have refused to do this.


“We asked Sony to make a donation to community groups nominated by the
Cathedral. They have not responded.”
(Times Online)

So they still want the game off the shelves. And they still want their ransom. But, wait! There’s more!


Manchester Cathedral is calling for all video games manufacturers to sign up
to a new set of “sacred digital guidelines” to prevent future “virtual
desecration” of religious buildings.
(Times Online)

More Godfather fun from the Dean of Manchester:

“We also asked them to sign up to the Sacred Digital Guidelines. They have refused to do this.” (“Sony Issues ‘Unreserved’ Apology to Manchester Cathedral,” ChristianToday.com)

Sacred digital guidelines? Virtual desecration? I’m pretty sure none of that is the Bible. The Church of England is just making this stuff up on the fly. I don’t think any of that will fly in the USA, where we have a little thing called the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of speech … including, presumably, the freedom to have imaginary characters in fictional video games have imaginary shootouts in digital representations of buildings. So I think Sony can skate here in America. But in the U.K, who knows? They’ve been heading toward a V for Vendetta society for years now.

Sadly, Sony might be better off to go ahead and give the Very Offended Reverend his wergild. We shall see.

But I still stand by my original position that lost in all of the good reverend’s umbrage is the fact that no actual cathedrals were harmed in the making of Sony’s video game!

See some good discussion of the whole mess in reader responses at GamePolitics.com.

For completeness, here is Sony’s still-not-good-enough apology:


Letters to the Editor, Manchester Evening News


Dear Sir,


At a recent meeting with Dean Rogers Govender and Canon Denby of Manchester
Cathedral we discussed the use of the Cathedral as a setting for one of the
scenes in our video game Resistance Fall of Man.


It is clear to us that the connection between the congregation and the Cathedral
is a deeply personal and spiritual one. As a result, it is also clear that
we have offended some of the congregation by using the Cathedral in our
science fiction game.


It was never our intention to offend anyone in the making of this game, and we
would like to apologise unreservedly to them for causing that offence, and
to all parts of the community who we might also have offended.


Furthermore, we will ensure that Manchester Cathedral is never used as a setting
in any future Sony Computer Entertainment video game.


Yours faithfully


Dr David A Reeves


President


Sony Computer Entertainment Europe

(“Full text of Sony’s letter of apology,” Times Online)

APOLOGY UPDATE: Apology Crisis in the Punjab!

Speaking of the Punjab —

CHANDIGARH: The dera Sacha Sauda of Sirsa on Wednesday submitted a
revised apology to the Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of Sikhs
for hurting Sikh sentiments.
(“Dera Sacha Sauda sends revised apology to Akal Takht,” Punjab Newsline Network)

I know you’ve all been wondering if he would re-apologize. Well, he did!

APOLOGY UPDATE: Fox News Apologizes Again

The Fox News wrong tape epic continues. To recap: Fox News ran footage of Rep. John Conyers to illustrate a story about the indictment of Rep. William Jefferson. Fox News apologized. Rep. Conyers rejected the Fox News apology as insufficient. Yesterday, Fox News apologized again:

On Wednesday, Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum
explained to viewers that a production assistant picked up a tape that
had been identified as a meeting about Jefferson. The picture showed
Conyers.

“We regret this mistake,” MacCallum
said. “We in no way meant to suggest that there was any connection
between the Jefferson indictment and Congressman Conyers. We have
extended our apology privately to the congressman and we do so here as
well.”
(“Fox News Apologizes Again for Tape Goof,” FOXNews.com)

As you recall: “Conyers was reportedly upset that Fox’s first apology was nonspecific and didn’t mention he was the victim.”

Because when you’re the victim, you want everyone to know you’re the victim. Otherwise, what’s the point of even being a victim? If you’re victimized and no one knows about it, it’s like you weren’t even victimized at all. Or something like that.

Actually, the whole point of Conyers’ playing the “apology not good enough” hand is to prolong the story and extract another, more abject apology from his nemesis, the evil Fox News. This time he got his name into the apology (free air time!), a “We regret this mistake” AND made Fox go through the exercise of explaining how this terrible thing happened. The trifecta! PLUS — a private apology too. It was a good day for Rep. Conyers.

Now … will he accept the new apology and let this tedious story die? Or go for another round?

And if Fox has to apologize yet again, will they make Martha MacCallum do it? She must be the designated on-air apologizer.

Also: Atlanta columnist Jim Wooten sees it about like I do. But with different words.

DATE OF (RE)APOLOGY: June 6, 2007
APOLOGIZER:  Anchor Martha  MacCallum,  on behalf of Fox News
APOLOGIZEE: Rep. John Conyers
FOR: Running the wrong video footage

APOLOGY UPDATE: Redskin Portis Reconsiders Dogfighting

In our very first apology analysis, we dogged Washington Redskins running back Clinton Portis for a fairly lame and not-terribly-sincere sounding apology for his remarks endorsing dogfighting — or at least questioning whether making two hapless hounds battle each other to the death for the amusement of onlookers should be considered a crime.

It appears that he has subsequently given the matter greater thought and reached the conclusion that dogfighting really is a bad thing:

“A couple of weeks ago, when I made those comments, I didn’t understand
the seriousness behind it,” Portis said. “I didn’t know it would affect
that many people, didn’t think what I said was that offensive. But
after doing research and seeing how serious people take this, I
shouldn’t have made the comments.”
(“Portis changes dog fighting stance.” SI.com)

He goes on to say:

“I had no idea the love that people have for animals or didn’t consider
it when I made those comments,” Portis said. “I’m not even a pets man.
I’ve got a fish — that’s the easiest thing to keep up. I’ve never been
into dogs, never dealt with dogs, don’t like playing with dogs. But at
the same time there’s a lot of people who are crazy over pets.”

The heat he has taken for his remarks probably helped focus his thinking on the issue:

The Washington Redskins running back spoke Tuesday of the searing
criticism he has received since he made light of the dog fighting
investigation involving Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick.

But he does seem, in classic TV sit-com fashion, to have learned a valuable lesson:

Portis said Tuesday that he’ll be more judicious before offering an opinion that might come back to dog him.

“From now on, I don’t comment on nobody,” Portis said. “My life is the only thing I can control.”

APOLOGY UPDATE: Conyers Rejects Fox News Apology

Oh, goody! I was hoping for something like this. As we discussed yesterday, Fox News issued a brief on-air apology for running video of Rep. John Conyers to accompany a story about the indictment of Rep. William Jefferson.

My take: Mistakes happen. Move on. It’s the on-air equivalent of a typo.

UNLESS of course your stock-in-trade is viewing everything you can through the lens of racial conflict. AND you hate Fox News. AND you see Fox New’s mistake as an excellent opportunity to both reinforce your “everything-is-about-race” world view and your strongly held belief that Fox News is neither fair nor balanced, despite their tag line.

Rep. Conyers does not disappoint us:

A top Democratic Congressman slammed Fox News for confusing him with
an indicted colleague who is also African-American in a Monday
afternoon broadcast. Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) accused the network of
having a ‘complete disregard for accuracy.”

“Fox News has a history of inappropriate on-air mistakes that are
neither fair, nor balanced. This type of disrespect for people of color
should no longer be tolerated. I am personally offended by the
network’s complete disregard for accuracy in reporting and lackluster
on-air apology,” said Rep. Conyers in a statement sent to RAW STORY. (
Conyers
calls Fox News’s apology ‘lackluster,’ condemns network for ‘disregard for
accuracy’,”  The Raw Story
)

As in the recent Apology Crisis in the Punjab! we see that demanding an apology or scorning an offered apology as inadequate can be a useful ploy in advancing one’s social or political goals. Not to take sides here, but I seriously doubt the folks in the Fox News control room consciously said, “Hey, you know what would be hilarious? Running footage of John Conyers when we announce Rep. Jefferson’s indictment?” I mean, maybe that’s what happened, but I find it much more plausible that someone made a dumb mistake.

In normal polite discourse, a brief apology would suffice to reconcile the error. But we not live in a world or an era of polite discourse.  We live in a world of 24-hour no-holds-barred political and ideological conflict in which one’s opponents are not merely wrong, but inherently evil and most likely the spawn of Satan.

Which is one reason why, as I noted, yesterday, I rarely watch cable news.

Fox News has, of course, made more than negligible contributions to creating this climate of permanent rhetorical Wrestlemania. So they can hardly complain when Rep. Conyers takes a posture of being highly offended at their mistake and summarily rejects their apology:

In the statement, Conyers’ office also noted, “The network apologized
on-air for airing the wrong video; however, they did not personally
apologize to Mr. Conyers or describe the video they aired the previous
day.”
(The Raw Story)

Conyers could have just let it go. He could have accepted the apology and moved on. Had, perhaps, CNN made this error — because every network makes mistakes like this from time to time — he might have done so.

Compare, for example, this incident from January: CNN apologizes for Obama gaffe in Bin Laden graphic (Raw Story) CNN made multiple on-air apologies for an erroneous graphic that accompanied a story about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. Instead of “Where’s Osama?” it read “Where’s Obama?”

Sen. Barack Obama graciously accepted the apology:

In an interview with RAW STORY,
Senator Obama’s Press Secretary Tommy Vietor said he thought there was
“no malicious intent” behind the graphic. “Wolf Blitzer is a good
person and journalist. Someone made a mistake in a graphic, and that’s
as far as it goes,” he said.
(Raw Story)

Sen. Obama had nothing to gain from picking a fight with CNN. Had more conservative-leaning Fox News made that same mistake, he might have gotten some mileage out of being offended and rejecting their apology. (Or maybe not — Sen. Obama has a nice guy image, so maybe he would have accepted the apology from Fox too)

But the Jefferson/Conyers WAS Fox News, so here the unforced error (to use an obligatory baseball allusion) presents Rep. Conyers an opportunity to pick up a bat and take a few free whacks at Fox. (I realize that is not part of the rules of baseball.)

In the current media culture Conyers would be foolish not to take the free shot.