Tricky Mitch

Mitch Albom has apologized for fabricating his column. Where other columnists would be sacked on the spot, Albom, by contrast, has been permitted to continue his career. What’s particularly interesting are the parallels between Albom’s apologetic column and Richard Nixon’s famous “Checkers” speech from 1952:

STEP ONE: Repeat An Adjective Three Times for Emphasis

NIXON: “I say that it was morally wrong if any of that $18,000 went to Senator Nixon for my personal use. I say that it was morally wrong if it was secretly given and secretly handled. And I say that it was morally wrong if any of the contributors got special favors for the contributions that they made.”
ALBOM: “I felt terrible for the mistake, terrible that my newspaper had to take heat, terrible that my editors were besieged.”

STEP TWO: Acknowledge Yourself as a Public Servant With a Clipped Sentence

NIXON: “I come before you tonight.”
ALBOM: “I write for you.”

STEP THREE: Declare That the Battle Isn’t Over With a Stunning Statement of Personal Strength

NIXON: “But let me just say this last word. Regardless of what happens I’m going to continue this fight.”
ALBOM: “And know this: Just as you can’t assume the future, you can’t always assume human nature.”

STEP FOUR: Underplay the Sin

NIXON: “Every penny of it was used to pay for political expenses that I did not think should be charged to the taxpayers of the United States. It was not a secret fund.”
ALBOM: “I made a careless mistake in a column. It wasn’t malicious. It didn’t harm the subjects. But it was factually incorrect in four paragraphs.”

STEP FIVE: Refer to Past as “Dark”

NIXON: “I remember in the dark days of the Hiss case…”
ALBOM: “The last three weeks have been the darkest yet most enlightening of my professional life. The dark part is obvious.”

STEP SIX: Respond with Subtle Libertarian Ethical Statement

NIXON: “Every penny of it was used to pay for political expenses that I did not think should be charged to the taxpayers of the United States.”
ALBOM: “Besides, in 20 years of doing this column, I have never written for those people.”

© 2005, DrMabuse. All rights reserved.

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2 Comments

  1. Were Aristotle alive today, he’d no doubt praise you for drawing attention to a subgenre of apology and then start parsing the fuck out of it. My only question: What other famous apologies fit this mold?

  2. That was fucking brillant Ed. This little tool should have been fired immediately. Then he should have been fired when he apologized and didn’t really apologize. Then he should have been fired when he laughed it up on the local NBC affiliate’s newscast the next day. And again when he made this apology you refer to – after supposedly being punished by the Free Press. In this apology, he went so far as to state he wouldn’t slash back at those who had attacked him. God forbid they state the truth – if the little creator of facts had done that in the first place, as he demanded of Jayson Blair, nobody could have said a word about him.

    Thank you,

    Dan

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