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Forced, faked, heartfelt, intentionally withheld and/or futile, apologies are everywhere right now.
Consider the apology given, after public shaming, by Rep. Hal Rogers, the Kentucky Republican, to Rep. Joyce Beatty, the Ohio Democrat.
She said he poked her in the back and told her to “kiss my ass” after she asked him to wear a mask while boarding the subterranean train that shuttles lawmakers from their offices to the Capitol building. Read CNN’s report.
There’s video from just after the incident of an irate Beatty, who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus, telling Rogers she won’t stand for this treatment.
And she didn’t. Beatty called Rogers out on Twitter, explaining what happened and firmly inviting an apology.
Rogers initially apologized to her on the House floor, while not wearing a mask, according to Beatty, but the mumbling he offered wasn’t good enough.
It took demands from Beatty and the Congressional Black Caucus before Rogers publicly admitted the mistake in a statement.
“My words were not acceptable,” Rogers told CNN on Tuesday, and in their meeting on the House floor he said he “expressed my regret to her, first and foremost.”
Apology accepted. Beatty said Wednesday on CNN’s “New Day” that she’s moving on – although she pointed out an unwillingness to mask is a consistent issue among Republican members in the House, where masking is required indoors. Beatty said there was a sign regarding masks posted on the train.
She also wondered how the situation would have played out differently if it had been a Black man poking a White woman in the back.
What’s appropriate? And where? Poking and swearing probably wouldn’t be acceptable in most of corporate America. But Congress is its own special bubble, where voters are the bosses and they often select representatives specifically promising to shake things up and be impolite. Witness Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia.
An apology in the White House. President Joe Biden promised a civil environment free of bullying, which meant he had to accept the resignation of a longtime adviser this week.
Eric Lander was director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy and was overseeing the “Cancer Moonshot” initiative, which is particularly important to Biden.
An internal White House investigation uncovered a bullying and demeaning atmosphere under Lander.
CNN’s report described Lander’s apology:
In an apology email to OSTP staff on Friday evening and obtained by CNN, Lander apologized for speaking to colleagues in a “disrespectful or demeaning way.” … “I am deeply sorry for my conduct,” Lander continued. “I especially want to apologize to those of you who I treated poorly, or were present at the time. I also realize that my conduct reflects poorly on this Administration, and interferes with our work. I deeply regret that.”
It was too little, too late. After the weekend, Lander resigned.
Joe Rogan’s many apologies. The controversial podcaster Joe Rogan is keeping his corporate job despite having to issue a slew of apologies in recent weeks.
For Covid-19 misinformation. He apologized to Spotify and to everyone else after Neil Young yanked his music from the streaming service and called Rogan out for spreading misinformation about vaccines.
“If I pissed you off, I’m sorry,” Rogan said in an Instagram video on January 30, in which he promised to balance his podcast with more perspectives.
For using the N-word. Then came a new controversy when the musician India Arie resurfaced video of Rogan using the N-word repeatedly.
He apologized via Instagram on Saturday for the racial slurs, and although he said the clips were all from years ago, he called the behavior “regretful” and “shameful.”
“I know that to most people, there’s no context where a White person is ever allowed to say that, never mind publicly on a podcast, and I agree with that,” he said.
And: “Whenever you’re in a situation where you have to say, ‘I’m not racist,’ you f**ked up, and I clearly have f**ked up.”
Anti-apology advice. Former President Donald Trump, who has experience both in offending people and not apologizing for it, encouraged Rogan to change tactics.
“How many ways can you say you’re sorry?” Trump said in an emailed statement. “Joe, just go about what you do so well and don’t let them make you look weak and frightened. That’s not you and it never will be!”
The after-apology. Rogan was moving away from apologies on Tuesday’s podcast.
“That video had always been out there,” he said of the mashup of him using the N-word. “It’s like, this is a political hit job,” Rogan said. “And so they’re taking all this stuff that I’ve ever said that’s wrong and smushing it all together.”
He expressed a kind of relief to be dealing with it. “It’s good because it makes me address some s**t that I really wish wasn’t out there.”
Apologizing for Rogan, but keeping him. While Spotify has chosen Rogan over Young, Arie and other musicians, the company has apologized both for its behavior and Rogan’s.
It has removed scores of his podcast episodes from the platform.
CEO Daniel Ek apologized to employees on Sunday in a memo that was also given to CNN. He said that Rogan’s previous comments don’t represent the company’s values, but that it would be standing by him. The message, at heart, was that these things will happen.
“I deeply regret that you are carrying so much of this burden,” Ek said to his staff. “I also want to be transparent in setting the expectation that in order to achieve our goal of becoming the global audio platform, these kinds of disputes will be inevitable.”
Atonement? Ek said the company would pour $100 million – an amount equal to Spotify’s reported deal with Rogan – to license, develop and market music from “historically marginalized groups.”
Young, perhaps trying out new song lyrics, encouraged Spotify employees on Monday to “get out of the place before it eats up your soul.”
Not exactly apologies. Then there are the apologies that don’t happen. CNN’s former president Jeff Zucker acknowledged he broke company policy when he didn’t disclose the start of a relationship with a subordinate. He also accepted responsibility, said he regretted the circumstances and resigned his position. But he did not apologize.
Neither did Awkwafina, the Asian American comedian criticized for using a so-called “blaccent,” or Black accent, during her career.
She posted a long and thoughtful statement to Twitter on Saturday about her experience as an immigrant being influenced by the movies and TV shows she watched. But she didn’t apologize. Rather, she said she’ll spend her career “uplifting our communities” by “failing, learning, acknowledging, hearing and empathizing.”