Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Trending that caught Doug's eye... public apologies

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"It's sad, so sad /

Why can't we talk it over? /

Oh it seems to me /

That sorry seems to be the hardest word."

With apologies to Elton John -- and we really mean that -- it seems saying sorry isn't all that hard after all, considering the number of newsmakers bouncing the word around like a beach ball full of hot air.

Speaking of hot air, consider the plight of embattled Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who has been dishing up apologies like hot meals in recent weeks.

On his weekly radio show on Nov. 3, Ford apologized for some of his mistakes, such as making a drunken spectacle of himself. "I'm the first one to admit, friends, I'm the first one to admit I am not perfect," the disgraced mayor conceded. "I have made mistakes... and all I can do right now is apologize for the mistakes."

Days later, after admitting to using crack cocaine in a drunken stupor, there was another apology. "With today's announcement I know I embarrassed everyone in the city and I will be forever sorry," Ford opined.

Then, after being shown on video in an impaired rant threatening to kill someone, the mayor emerged from his office and declared: "All I can say is, again, I've made mistakes. I just wanted to come out and tell you I saw a video. It's extremely embarrassing."

Ford's troubles are far from over, but it may comfort him to know he's in excellent company when it comes to apologizing. Here are five he might want to study:

5) The apologizer -- Reese Witherspoon

The bad thing -- It was not an award-winning moment for an Oscar-winning actress, and it was all caught on tape. In a dash-cam video of an April 19 incident in Atlanta, Witherspoon is seen trying to intercede as her husband is given a sobriety test after a traffic stop. A Georgia state trooper tells her five times to stay in the vehicle, but she was defiant. "Do you know my name?" she demanded of the trooper, who eventually slapped the cuffs on her. "You're about to find out who I am."

The apology: In an appearance on Good Morning America, the normally squeaky-clean star, who was arrested for disorderly conduct, gave one of many mea culpas, saying: "We had one too many glasses of wine and thought we were fine to drive and we absolutely were not. And it's just completely unacceptable and we are so sorry and embarrassed. And we know better. And we shouldn't have done that."

4) The apologizer - Kanye West

The bad thing - Taylor Swift was accepting her award for Best Female Video on Sept. 13, 2009, at the MTV Video Music Awards when Kanye rushed the stage, grabbed the microphone from the startled teenager and began to object in front of the world. "I'm sorry, but Beyonce had one of the best videos of all time!" the rapper ranted.

The apology -- Shortly after the awards show, Kanye apologized on his blog, then he apologized on The Tonight Show, then, a year later, posted a rambling 72-tweet apology about how terrible he feels, saying, among other things: "When I woke up from the crazy nightmare, I looked in the mirror and said GROW UP KANYE ... I'm sorry Taylor." Of course, he later told The New York Times he had "no regrets." So there's that.

3) The apologizer - Tiger Woods

The bad thing -- OK, there wasn't one bad thing; there were many. On Nov. 27, 2009, after a tabloid published a story about his affair with a nightclub hostess, the world's best golfer crashed his Cadillac outside his Florida mansion. His then wife, Elin Nordegren, reportedly used a golf club to smash one of the SUV's back windows. After that, multiple mistresses came forward to reveal Tiger was a serial philanderer.

The apology -- In an emotional 13.5-minute address broadcast live on Feb. 19, 2010, Tiger spoke publicly for the first time about the scandal. "I was unfaithful, I had affairs and I cheated," he said. "What I did was unacceptable ... I hurt my wife, my kids, my mother, my wife's family, my friends, my foundation and kids all around the world who admired me."

2) The apologizer -- Bill Clinton

The bad thing -- We are talking about arguably the most notorious sex scandal in political history. In 1998, it emerged that, yes, U.S. President Bill Clinton did have sex with that woman, by whom we mean White House Intern Monica Lewinsky, who initially denied the relationship, but "Lewinskygate" managed to leak out.

The apology -- Clinton finally confessed to his presidential shenanigans in a stony-faced White House address on Aug. 17, 1998, stating: "Indeed I did have a relationship with Miss Lewinsky that was not appropriate. In fact, it was wrong ... I misled people, including even my wife. I deeply regret that."

1) The apologizer -- Stephen Harper

The very bad thing -- The residential school system is one of the darkest chapters in Canadian history. The schools robbed aboriginal children of their language, culture and the care of their families. As a Free Press editorial put it: "They grew up in environments that, initially, sought to bleed the Indian out of them, to assimilate them. Many were badly physically and sexually abused."

The apology -- On June 11, 2008, Harper stood in a hushed House of Commons to give the first formal apology from a Canadian prime minister for the federally financed program. "Mr. Speaker, I stand before you today to offer an apology to former students of Indian residential schools," the PM said in the historic address. "The treatment of children in Indian residential schools is a sad chapter in our history ... Today, we recognize that this policy of assimilation was wrong, has caused great harm, and has no place in our country."

doug.speirs@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 16, 2013 D2

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