The Insider: Diss and Dat

Apr 27, 2008  •  Post A Comment

No A’s for Apologies …
If there’s anything The Insider finds more off-putting than offensive remarks made by folks privileged enough to be employed by or be guests on TV news programs, it’s unsatisfactory apologies uttered under duress by the offenders (or their paid spokespeople) who just want to get on with their ever-so-important lives.
In fact, it would be easier to find that old needle in a haystack than to think of a satisfactory apology given after televised offenses in recent memory.
Here’s The Insider’s litmus test for any apology: Would an offended or appalled spouse, significant other, parent or best friend accept it as an adequate apology for a comparable offense within those relationships?
Note to actress Jane Fonda, who uttered the four-letter “c” word no woman wants to be called during a live segment on “Today” in February: Leaving it to one’s publicist to say no disrespect was intended by the “slip” of the lip is worse than no apology at all—which is what the NBC morning show got from Ms. Fonda: No apology at all.
… for Boosterish Coverage
Because she does not wish to apologize to anyone she has not meant to offend with this item, it has been carefully (under)written (and rewritten). And it comes with an introductory declaration that The Insider intends no criticism of Catholics, unless they happen to be among the national and local reporters and anchors guilty of leaving all journalistic basics, standards and cautions at home when they covered Pope Benedict XVI’s trip to Washington, D.C., and New York City.
The Insider has heard less gushing and ga-ga coverage of holiday or Super Bowl champion parades. No one seemed to have told the newspeople or the religious experts that their role was to report, explain or put into context what was going on, not cheer or speak for the pontiff.
Journalistic offenses and lapses were the rule, not the exception.
The video record of the pope’s visit—which was part diplomacy, part heavily stage-managed missionary work—offers hours of grist for a journalism class in what not to do the next time the head of the Catholic church visits this country.
Worshipful phrases are not among the five W’s drummed into the heads of working journalists.
The Insider now is wearing a lightning rod and shoes with thick rubber soles 24/7.
… or the ‘GMA’ Cake
Speaking of lapses, “Good Morning America” might want to have someone proofread the frosted inscription on a birthday cake before they show it off to the camera next time.
At the end of the April 23 show, the ABC morning program wished Shirley Temple a happy 80th birthday in absentia.
The former child star and diplomat wasn’t there to partake of the cake, “which we’ll eat in your honor,” said Diane Sawyer.
Amid the pink frosting flowers and green frosting leaves, written in red frosting, were the words “Happy Birthday Shlrley.”
If someone wants to argue that was an “i” instead of an “l” in the first syllable in Ms. Temple’s name, The Insider will argue that it looked much more like the “l” in the second syllable than the “i” in the first syllable of “birthday.”
And it wouldn’t have taken anything but an artful swipe of a clean fingertip to remove any confusion.


  1. Michelle, my basic rule for an apology is: If it has the word “if” in it, it’s not an apology, it’s a conditional explanation.

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