Stephen Colbert Apology to Canton, Kansas

Stephen Colbert continues the gag now apologizing to Canton, Kansas before proceeding to pick on yet another Canton — this time Canton, South Dakota.

Now we have no idea how long Colbert will run with this gag, apologizing to one town while insulting the next. It is amusing to watch some of the people in each Canton — people who clearly don’t get the joke — take offense.

Brilliant satirist that he is, Colbert is making some sort of important point about our media culture and the cheap throwaway apologies that we so often see … and which Apology Index often covers. Being less brilliant, I’m not entirely sure what his point is … but I am sure it is both funny and true.

Other commentary:

KTKA News: “Stephen Colbert delivers low blow to Canton”

Wichita Eagle blog

Athena of Writing Athena gets it … but then she IS the goddess of wisdom. She says:

Never mind that the main target of Stephen
Colbert’s satire was not Canton, Kansas (any more than it was
previously Canton, Georgia), but rather TV talk show pundits like Bill
O’Reilly, whose rare “apologies” are really elaborate attempts at
self-justification which contain more barbs than balm.


Go read the rest.

Stephen Colbert Apology to Canton, Georgia

Mock media personality Stephen Colbert apologizes for offhanded insult to Canton, Georgia. The apology is about as real as the original offense, but considering the way Colbert (who hails from South Carolina) often takes potshots at neighboring Georgia, even a fake apology is noteworthy.

And hey! Free publicity for Canton, Georgia.

The Radio + TV blog on the Atlanta Journal-Constitution site comments on the story:

Holy backtrack, Batman! Stephen Colbert has issued what he termed a
“rare” apology for last week’s “crappy Canton” comment that “puzzled”
mayor Gene Hobgood.

“Evidently, I offended some people because two days later, I saw this
in the Atlanta Journal Constitution,” Colbert said in his Wednesday
night broadcast. My colleague Jamie Gumbrecht’s print story is shown on
screen and he reads the headline “Colbert’s ‘crappy Canton’ comment
puzzles mayor.”

“Seems the mayor of Canton Georgia was none too happy with me,” he continued.

“It’s clear to me he has not been to Canton Georgia,” Hobgood says in a video clip from WXIA-TV.

“You’re absolutely right, Mayor Hobgood” Colbert said, to laughs. “I
haven’t. But I hear it’s a beautiful place. Nestled in the scenic Blue
Ridge Mountains, Canton is the fastest growing city in Georgia. It has
so much to offer like the Canton Historical Theater and the HIckory
Creek log dam. Not to mention oxygen and paved roads.”

“Yes, Canton Georgia, a wonderful place to live. So again, Mayor Hobgood. I apologize.”

“Why did I call your lovely city crappy? A simple mixup. I meant Canton, Kansas.”

Which town he goes on to insult gratuitously and in great detail.

Here is video:

Journalist Apology for Calling Marion Barry a “Crackhead”

It is time once again to play “I’m Sorry, Marion Barry!

Everybody knows Marion Barry smokes crack.

Or at least he did. He’s the most famous crack-smoking former mayor of a major U.S. city in the world. There is video.

But that was a long time ago. Yes, he tested positive for cocaine and marijuana back in 2005. Yes, there was that 2006 arrest for driving under the influence, but he was acquitted. He’s in drug counseling.

Lay off the man! Marion Barry is no longer the mayor of Washington, DC. But he is still MARION BARRY, BABY! And don’t you forget it!

Well, some poor schlub named Tim Page forget:

WASHINGTON (AP) — A Pulitzer Prize-winning music critic for The
Washington Post has apologized for sending an angry e-mail in which he
called District of Columbia Council member Marion Barry a “crack
addict.”

Tim Page wrote to Barry’s aide last week after receiving
a press release about the former mayor’s views on the financially
troubled Greater Southeast Community Hospital.

“Must we hear
about it every time this crack addict attempts to rehabilitate himself
with some new — and typically half-witted — political grandstanding?”
the e-mail said. “I’d be grateful if you would take me off your mailing
list. I cannot think of anything the useless Marion Barry could do that
would interest me in the slightest, up to and including overdose.” (AP)

That is just cold, man. After all Marion Barry has done to for Our Nation’s Capital, you’ve got to hate on him like that?

If you’re not a fan, that’s fine. Personally I believe one can be dismayed by Mayor Barry’s personal and administrative shortcomings and still appreciate his entertainment value and sheer political will to survive. Even after the crack conviction and doing time in prison he was elected mayor again and currently serves on the DC city council.

Love him or hate him, you’ve got to admire the tenacity.

“I’d be grateful if you would take me off your mailing list,” would have sufficed, Tim.

But that wouldn’t have been any fun, would it? Apology time!

“It’s the stupidest thing I’ve done in 30 years in journalism,” music critic Tim Page said yesterday. “I hope people won’t judge me on this one explosion.” (Washington Post)

Err … considering this is the first I’ve ever heard of you and that the mission of Apology Index is to judge apologies, I can’t help you there, Tim. But I will agree it was stupid.

But is there an actual apology?

Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. called Page’s e-mail “a
terrible mistake” and said he has taken “appropriate internal action,”
but neither he nor Page would disclose it.

Really?

Page plans to take a previously scheduled four-month leave starting Jan. 1

Yes, I think that would be wise.

What does the offended party say?

Barry said in an interview that he was “outraged” and “incredulous” at
the “despicable” e-mail, “particularly coming from a reporter at a
reputable newspaper like The Washington Post, not a rag.” He said the
note amounted to “character assassination” at a time when “around the
nation, it’s almost open season on black people.”

See what I mean? He’s still got it! Complete with a whole deck of race cards up his sleeve.

Still, where is the apology?

Downie said Barry called him and that “we had a good conversation. . . . He accepted my apology.”

Okay, the editor apologized. So is everything cool?

Barry said yesterday that Page “ought to be fired, and The
Washington Post ought to run an editorial apology. That would be a
signal to the whole world that The Washington Post won’t tolerate this
kind of lowlife activity.”

I guess not. But see what I mean? Marion Barry is a national treasure! That is priceless invective. Flawless puffed up outrage. And I’m just guessing here, but he says these things freestyle! There is no script, no handlers, just pure Barry, bottled at the source — and uncorked on camera.

Here’s more:

That’s not enough for Barry. “It’s despicable, just awful – the
language was undescribable, garbage-can type of language,” he tells WJLA-TV. “I’m used to Barry-bashing, but this was worse than bashing, this was almost a hate crime, almost.

(WJLA.com) (With video!!)

Almost a hate crime … genius! Because a lesser man would go with “hate crime.” Not Barry. He knows, instinctively, that would be too much. Too laughable. But “almost” a hate crime?

Same great victimhood taste, with half the calories.

I’m still wondering if Page himself apologized?

In a letter of apology to Johnson, Page said he was sorry for his
“rude” response, adding: “I am deeply ashamed for what I did and I know
how hurtful my words could be.”
( Washington Post)

He apologized to Barry’s aide, but not to the man himself? Probably too busy packing for that “previously planned” four month vacation.

The Author’s Tale, or An English Apology

GalleyCat at MediaBistro.com is a blog that covers the world of (primarily) book publishing. Having an interest in such matters, I am a regular GalleyCat reader. Today GalleyCat points us toward a lesson in apology etiquette.

The Man Booker Prize is one of those prestigious literary awards that honors the kind of book I never read. It purports to promote “the finest in fiction by rewarding the very best book of the year.” Opinions can obviously vary on that point. For instance, I have read exactly none of the past Booker Prize winners. Nor any of this year’s nominees.

These are Oprah book club books. Books that get made into tedious three hour indy films. I prefer popular literature, the classics and non-fiction. But among authors who write books that I will never read, winning the Booker Prize is a Big Deal. Even making the shortlist is probably a faint-inducing thrill.

So it was for A.N. Wilson, author of WINNIE AND WOLF. (“the story of the extraordinary relationship between Winifred Wagner and
Adolf Hitler that took place during the years 1925-40, as seen through
the eyes of the secretary at the Wagner house in Bayreuth.”
Zzzzzz … did I doze off?)

No, actually, I’m sure it is a fine book and much better written than Apology Index. Just look at this review: “This novel should carry a warning: its appeal will be greatest for
fans either of Wagner and European history, or of politics and
philosophy” —
Sunday Times.

That is one hot demographic. Obviously, authors of books like this aren’t in it for the money. Which makes the rewards of winning the Booker Prize all the more sweet. Mr. Wilson’s book made the so-called longlist of 13 titles. Actually, why don’t I let Wilson himself tell you what happened, as he wrote it up in the Telegraph:

The Man Booker shortlist has been announced and, as
always, my name wasn’t on it.

You and me both, brother.

My novel Winnie and Wolf had been on the
longlist, so the poor publishers were patiently waiting beside the
telephone on Thursday afternoon, hoping for the best.

Something
told me that they were waiting in vain, but of course you never know.

I like this guy already. Not putting on airs like other authors of books I never read. Modest chap. Proper head on his shoulders. Well grounded, he is.


At shortly before four o’clock they rang me in tremendous excitement.
It sounded as if one of the nice women in the office had either brought
along a puppy to join in the celebrations or was herself having
hysterics. “You’re through! You’re on the list!” I was told.

It
transpired that Colman Getty, the PR firm that manages the Man Booker
prize, had rung up my publisher, Hutchinson, to tell them the glad, and
surprising, news that I was on the list.

I told you this guy could write! It’s like we’re right there in the publisher’s office ourselves, waiting by the phone. Oh, the delicious anticipation! The utter carefree joy at receiving the happy news!

In our little street in north London, we rushed out to tell the
neighbours, some of whom broke out in spontaneous, and truly touching,
dances of joy. Others climbed lampposts to hang out the bunting, which
had not been used since the Jubilee Party. I sat down a little stunned
and began to ring up those who had been kind enough to ask me to tell them if I were lucky.

And then …

But in the interval of one of these calls the telephone rang once more.
“It was a mistake. Colman Getty have just rung to say that you aren’t
on the list after all.”

Ohhhh, the disappointment! The deflation of our rapture!

And then … the apology.

About an hour later, a motorbike came to the front door with a letter.

You’ve just got to love the British. Apology hand-delivered by motorbike.

“Dear
Andrew, I’ve just got back from the Man Booker press conference to hear
about the really unfortunate mistake Lois, my assistant, has made in
telling Random House that Winnie and Wolf has been shortlisted for the
prize. I am so, so sorry that this has happened… It was a genuine
mistake, and we are all deeply upset by it.” It was signed by someone
called Dotty.

Now here Mr. Wilson makes a telling point. I must agree with him when he writes:

How truly shaming of Dotty to blame Lois for the
“genuine” mistake. Dotty, described in the letter as “Chief Executive”,
should have apologised collectively rather than naming the unfortunate
Lois who, far from being Dotty’s “assistant” is actually the
unfortunate person who has full responsibility for administering the
dire Man Booker circus.

Quite so! I could not put it better myself. Seriously, I couldn’t and I
shan’t even try. Dotty, whomever she might be is indeed quite dotty.
Throwing poor Lois under the bus like that.

Imagine doing Lois’s job.
With chief executives shrieking at you down the mobile telephone, and
many an “event” to organise, you would never have time to read much.
Surely, if one were running the publicity for the Man Booker, one
author is much like another. A N Wilson. A C Grayling. A L Kennedy. A S
Byatt, Waddever.

So talented, yet so humble, our Andrew Wilson. No prima donna he, raging up and down. He could say he was humiliated and demand that the thoughtless incompetent twit responsible for this outrage be fired at once! But A. N. Wilson is not a rap star, model or professional athlete. He is an author — and an English author at that!

And, apparently, a romantic …

But then sanity returned and I realised that poor
Lois had simply made a mistake, as we all do from time to time. As the
day wore on, I found myself thinking about her, and composing
Betjemanic poems about her in my head. Lois, my dream girl, tapped into
her BlackBerry, Lois the tomboy with hazel-green eyes, “Is that A N. Or
A L, Or Another? Lois is here with a lovely surprise.”

It
was lousy of Dotty to blame Lois. The Man Booker prize isn’t
everything. But who knows whether the story won’t have a romantic
ending. Perhaps Lois and I will laugh about it all one evening as we
sip our Sea Breezes in some secluded little Soho bar and muse upon the
strange, but in a way rather hilarious, circumstances that brought us
together?

I think I’m going to cry. And I think that if Mr. Wilson is this much of a gentleman and can tell this good of a story in a newspaper editorial (whilst also meting out a well-deserved, yet understated evisceration to “Dotty”), I really should read his book. After all, it’s not on the Booker Prize shortlist, so my perfect record of having read none of the Booker winners will remain intact.

Winnie and Wolf, by A.N. Wilson. Check it out!

BBC Apology to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

In the old days, this kind of thing could get your head chopped off. The French call it lèse majesté, an offense against the dignity of a reigning sovereign. In this case the offense was committed by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) against Queen Elizabeth II. What they did was not, technically, a crime here in modern times. But it was in poor taste and I am certain that Her Majesty’s displeasure was firmly communicated to the BBC. She may have even said, “We are not amused.” Who knows?

What happened? In promoting their upcoming fall shows, the BBC shared clips of an “A Year With the Queen,” a sort of “Real World: Buckingham Palace” documentary in which a camera crew had permission to follow the Queen around. One clip depicted Her Majesty putting celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz in her place when she suggested the Queen remove her crown so as to appear “less dressy” for her official portrait photo shoot. My guess is Annie will not be getting that gig again.

A subsequent clip shows the Queen bustling down a hallway in her robes of state, making an aside to one of her staff, with the implication that she had stormed out of the photo session. Very diva of the Queen.

But all was not as it seemed. The two scenes had been edited out of sequence. The second scene actually should have been first, as it showed the Queen on her way to the photo session. Which she did not storm out of.

Now the media can get away with a lot. They can edit and cut and splice and portray anyone in a false light. That’s the whole formula for most of the reality shows on the air … that’s how they ramp up the drama. 60 Minutes does this all the time too. Michael Moore’s whole overrated movie making career is based on this kind of oh-so-clever editing. There is usually very little the victims of such false or slanted portrayals can do about it.

But when you’re the BBC, playing “You got punked” with the Queen is a bad idea.

THE BBC has been forced to make an embarrassing
apology to the Queen for suggesting she stormed out of a photo
session after being asked to remove her crown.
(“Royal apology crowns open-and-shutter case,” TheAge.com)

You may commence groveling:

“In this trailer, there is a sequence that implies that the queen
left a sitting prematurely,” the BBC said in a statement. “This was not
the case and the actual sequence of events was misrepresented.

“The BBC would like to apologize to both the queen and Annie Leibovitz for any upset this may have caused.” (Pravda)

I don’t know if that is sufficiently abject. The Queen was said to be livid. Livid, I tell you!

After initially apologising at lunchtime today, the BBC tonight issued a fresh
statement trying to explain what it said was a miscommunication.


“The extracts shown from A Year with the Queen were supplied by RDF (the
documentary’s production company), who had made an early assembly of the
footage several months ago,” a BBC spokeswoman said.


“This assembly was never intended to be seen by the public or the press.
Unfortunately, this assembly was given in error to the BBC personnel who
were preparing the BBC One autumn launch tape.


“RDF did not have an opportunity to review the BBC One launch tape, but
would like to apologise to the Queen and Annie Leibovitz for this error.”
(Times Online)

Organizers “used the sequence in good faith without any knowledge that the error had been made,” per the BBC. (E! Online)

I think you’re moving in the wrong direction, BBC. Now you’re trying to weasel out of your mistake by blaming your sub-contractor, RDF. Although it was good of them to apologise too. But I think you’re just digging the hole deeper now.


During a day of embarrassing internal wrangling, the BBC Trust, the body that
oversees the corporation, said it would demand that Mark Thompson, the
corporation’s Director-General, explain the situation when he talks to next
week’s Trust meeting.

“The BBC Trust has requested the Director-General to give an account at
next week’s trust meeting of the events which led to the BBC issuing an
apology about the trailing of a documentary about HM The Queen,” a
statement said.
(Times Online)

Yup. You’re in trouble. Possibly career-ending trouble for Peter Fincham, director of BBC One, who presided over the press conference at which the erroneous footage was shown and told reporters that it depicted the Queen storming out of the photo session. He says he has no plans to resign over the row.

Generally speaking, when you have to announce that you have no plans to resign … it may no longer be your decision to make.

Angelina Jolie Apology to Fox News

So apparently actress, orphan collector and international sex symbol Angelina Jolie last week banned FOX News from covering the premiere of her new film A Mighty Heart.  FOX News caught up with her to ask why:

PORTER BARRY: Ms. Jolie, I’m with FOX News. Why did you ban — Ms. Jolie, why did you ban FOX News from your premiere last night?

JOLIE: I didn’t. I didn’t.

BARRY: Could you tell us what happened, Ms. Jolie?

JOLIE: There was a memo that I went [sic] out and I did not see.

BARRY: Yes.

JOLIE:
And I am sorry for the excessive manner that it was done in. And I had
my representatives apologize to me this morning for their manner.

BARRY: So did you know that they were banning FOX News last night?

JOLIE: I did not.

(END VIDEOTAPE) Fox News.com


As with Senator Obama’s campaign yesterday, her staff sent out a memo that she never saw. She says. I love this perfect celebrity apology from the perfect celebrity: “I had nothing to do with whatever your insignificant little problem is, FOX News. My people sent out a memo. I don’t read the memos my people send because I have people to read them for me. I am not sorry they banned you. I am sorry they banned you in an excessive manner. I made my people have apologize to me for doing so and I am satisfied with their apology. To me.”

She’s dreamy.

FOX News why are you bothering Ms. Jolie? Why are you breathing her air? Don’t you have a missing blonde to cover?

DATE OF APOLOGY: June 1?, 2007
APOLOGIZER: Angelina Jolie’s representatives
APOLOGIZEE: Angelina Jolie
FOR: That silly memo. Excessive banning.

ABC News apology to Marion Barry


When you find yourself apologizing to ex-Washington, DC Mayor (and current DC Council member) Marion Barry, you’ve definitely messed up.

The media mix tape hit parade continues, as ABC News apologizes for — does this sound familiar? — running video of Marion Barry to illustrate a story about the antics of an entirely different DC public official, administrative law judge Roy L. Pearson, Jr., who is suing a DC dry cleaner for $54 million for allegedly losing his favorite pair of pants.

Both men, of course, are African-American. Would this be a story otherwise?

But, come on, ABC! Barry is a lovable rascally rogue of a crook. A mischievous scamp who, upon being elected mayor once again after doing time on drug charges, gleefully informed those DC voters who were horrified at the prospect of his return to power to “Get over it!” When you think Barry you think comically dysfunctional municipal government. You think crack pipes and hookers. Murder capital of the world. Fun stuff like that.

Judge Pearson, on the other hand, appears to lead-paint-chip eating insane. Or a very petty man. Or both.

Oh, also, they look nothing alike.

Let’s see what our friends at ABC News have to say for themselves:

Tuesday’s Broadcast

June 13, 2007 1:00 PM

Tuesday’s
6:30 pm, ET feed of “World News” mistakenly used video in the program’s
open of DC council member Marion Barry instead of Roy Pearson. We
immediately recognized the error and corrected all subsequent feeds of
the broadcast. We are deeply sorry for this mistake and apologize to
Mr. Barry, Mr. Pearson, and to our viewers for the error.

This is from the ABC News website. There was no on-air apology. This won’t take long to slice through. As I said in my comments on the recent Fox News flub, these things happen. I didn’t realize it happened so frequently, but it’s the TV equivalent of typo. In this case, ABC didn’t run the wrong footage in the actual news story, but in the so-called “teaser” for the story to come later in the broadcast. So it probably didn’t rate an on-air apology. Unless, of course, Marion Barry wants one. Then you’d better get on camera and apologize, Charlie Gibson. He’s Marion Barry, man. Marion @!&* Barry!

Ok, let’s do this. Impersonal corporate voice apologizing here. Not anchor Charlie Gibson or anyone else with an actual name. On the website, not on-air. It would be on-air if Mr. Barry was still mayor, but he’s not. Still, they are deeply sorry. Also, we learn in a related story that Charlie Gibson is trying to reach ex-Mayor Barry to deliver a personal apology. That should be fun.

Why, you  may ask, did ABC have recent footage of Marion Barry at the courthouse lying around in the first place? Well, as it happens, Mr. Barry was in court on the same day as Crazy Pants Guy innocently beating the rap on a drunk driving charge. That’s why he was in front of the cameras.

Marion Barry driving drunk? Say it ain’t so! Actually, that’s just what the judge did.

(In all fairness to the arresting officers, even stone cold sober (or soberish), Marion Barry can look and sound drunk. It’s just hard to tell.)

As for the the technicians at ABC News (along with Fox News and CNN and the rest) here is a helpful hint. Buy a labelmaker! Label your tapes! Avoid embarrassing your anchors by mixing up footage of prominent law-abiding African-American officials with that of indicted felons, convicted felons and/or Crazy Pants Guy.

Because when you screw up, Nameless Backstage Technician, it’s not you that has to go on the air and apologize is it? It’s not you that has to call up Marion Barry and say you’re sorry. It’s Charlie Gibson! And we like Charlie Gibson. So don’t put Charlie Gibson in that awkward position again, okay?

DATE OF APOLOGY: June 13, 2007
APOLOGIZER: ABC News
APOLOGIZEE: Marion Barry, Crazy Pants Guy and ABC News viewers
FOR: Confusing Marion Barry with Crazy Pants Guy

Wired apology for ad gone wild

Wired.com apologizes today for an annoying ad run amok:

An
advertisement went live on Wired.com last night that obscured much of
the site and gave readers no way to remove it for close to 8 hours. The
ad was a so-called interstitial, admittedly one of the more invasive
styles of online advertising, even when executed properly. In this case
it was not, and for that we apologize.

Wired News has an ad review process to prevent things like this from
happening, but it failed us in this case. We are examining what went
wrong to ensure it does not happen twice. In the meantime, we are
suspending all interstitial ads from the site until further notice.

Thanks to everyone who wrote in to complain. On the one hand it’s
daunting to see hundreds of emails ripping us for an embarrassing
blunder. On the other, it shows how much you care about the site. We
don’t intend to test your loyalty again.

Sincerely,

Evan Hansen

Editor in Chief, Wired News

A nice little apology. Signed by the guy in charge. He explains the error, promises to make sure it doesn’t happen again, takes the immediate step of suspending all interstitial ads until they figure out what went wrong, apologizes and thanks everyone who wrote to complain. Well done.

But read that first paragraph again, where Evan admits that interstitial ads are annoying even when they don’t take over the whole site. Wired isn’t apologizing for annoying readers with interstitials — just for annoying readers more than usual in this instance.

DATE OF APOLOGY: June 12, 2007
APOLOGIZER: Evan Hansen, Editor-in-chief, Wired News
APOLGIZEE: Wired.com readers
FOR: Ad gone bad

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: 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.