The Rhetoric of Apologia: Be Sincere

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Why am I in PR? In part because I enjoy language. Its meaning. Its ability to unexpectedly create misunderstandings. Its capacity to repair those misunderstandings. Its ability to animate a writer’s prose or an orator’s elocution, particularly when delivering an apology.

The rhetoric of apologia in the classic model is quite simple: Admit wrong doing. Apologize. Identify a remedy to the problem. And of course, be sincere. Governor Sanford didn’t get it. Neither does Megan McCain, whom I generally like and admire. Her decision to post a suggestive photo of herself on Twitter may very well have been a playful attempt to illustrate that she’s comfortable with her weight. However, her shock about the ensuing commentary—both critical and supportive—doesn’t seem very credible. “The young girl learns big lesson about exposing her vulnerability in public” defense in the Daily Beast is a simple vow to be more judicious in her use of Twitter.

It yearns to be an apology, but lacks sincerity. Her musing reminds me of Kanye West’s tearful appearance on the Jay Leno show after he rudely interrupted the acceptance speech of Taylor Swift at the MTV Video Awards. Calculated stage craft. Result? Media buzz and headlines that only serve to enhance the offending party’s popularity – or at least raise his/her visibility.

I don’t normally comment on celebrities, politicians and pundits. But there have been too many examples recently not to give some unsolicited advice. The upside is that I now know Washington, DC, ranks #6 nationwide as one of the best cities to meet single men. Thank you Daily Beast.


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