Incidents and Apologies

Dear Viewers,

Have you ever said anything you regretted? I did last night on TV. And worse, as I said it, I realized it was wrong and I could not stop the words coming out of my mouth fast enough to avoid the regrettable.

In talking about the accuser in the Kobe Bryant (search) case, I defended her decision to call law enforcement directly rather than 911. I said something which, in essence, called 911 employees "receptionists." First, in my defense, being a receptionist is an important job. Receptionists are the "front line" in any business and if you have ever run a business, you know how important they are.

Second, working for 911 is very important. Every day -- and I mean every day -- they save lives. I admit that in my job I never have the opportunity or the responsibility to save lives. I hope both receptionists and those who work for 911 accept my apology. In short, I was wrong. My words just did not come out in the fashion I had intended or meant.

Third, many thanks to the viewers who "took me to task" for my remark.

While I am on the topic of apology, I am owed one, too. The editors of the editorial page of the Capital Times in Madison, Wisconsin wrote an editorial last Saturday attacking me personally (saying I had moved to Fox and "remade myself intellectually" among other things) and attacking the content of my new book My Turn at the Bully Pulpit. I can weather the personal attack and shrug it off. This is part of the deal when you are in the public eye.

Here is what disturbs me. In the editorial attacking the content of my new book, the editorial writer admits to not having read the book. I think this may be an "editorial first." Usually if one is to attack the content, it is a good idea to actually read the book. My thought is: da...

I have another disappointment. I went to college in Madison, Wisconsin (home of the paper) and had always read the paper and looked up to it as an example of journalism and good critical thought. Now, unfortunately, I think the editorial page is stupid. I accept criticism - and love debate about my book, good or bad - but it is incomprehensible to me that a newspaper would attack the content of a book and simultaneously admit having not read it. In some ways I think the editorial page is even dumber -- not only did the unread content of my book get attacked, but the editor exposes the foolishness of not reading it in the editorial. You would think the editor would have some "self preservation" and not admitted to such folly.

Incidentally, I called the editor of the page. I wanted to discuss this. Her name is Judy Ettenhofer. I think she was surprised to hear from me. She did not sound particularly happy to hear from me. I told her I had e-mailed a response and asked her if she would print my response. She said she would. I have not yet seen it -- maybe we will see it today. I asked her if she had written the editorial about my book -- since I wanted to discuss it -- and she said “no.” I asked who had so I could talk to that person. She would not tell me. Of course I know that Judy had to have passed on it since she is in charge of the editorial page but she did not volunteer that information. I then volunteered my disappointment that the editorial was critical of the content of my book without having even bothered to read it. She then said, "Is it out yet?" I nearly fell off my chair. It seemed that the paper is going out of its way to look bad with admission No. 2 that the book had not been read. I said, "Yes, it was out several days before the remarks about it in your paper." She said, "Oh." I asked if I would be getting an apology. She said she did not know. I am waiting. They know how to find me. I would much appreciate you calling Judy (608 252-6463) if you feel so inclined to find out when I will get my apology.

By the way, they also attacked my father in the editorial. He died 14 years ago. While I am not sure of the value in attacking a man who died 14 years ago, my father would have loved that he still could get an editorial page to take a swipe at him.

As an aside - I love Wisconsin. Everyone knows that. I think that is why I care about this one.

P.S. If the editorial page of the Capital Times publicly apologized to me, it would restore my view about the page. I know what it is like to be wrong and I know the relief when an apology is accepted.


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