When an apology isn’t an apology

Presidential ‘porkies’ and Olympic ‘obfuscations’

“I’m sorry” – two little words that get little media presence these days.

Didn’t your mother always insist you tell the truth?  To own up to things you’ve done wrong?

That if you don’t, the problem gets worse and worse!

In 2016 GOP candidate Donald Trump and Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte have both proved themselves masters of the ‘sincerely insincere apology for an apology.’

Trump has been a model of non-decorum throughout his campaign for the US presidency; Lochte won a gold but faltered over his fabrications of happenings in a Rio petrol station.

Both men subsequently issued the kind of apology for which PR receives a very bad name.

They avoided specifics, trumpeted their self-perceived greatness, continued to self-congratulate, and implied the problem lay with others rather than themselves.

Lack of good judgement, offensive remarks, ridiculous behaviour – all can be forgiven.  But an apology which conveys no contrition or regret, no acceptance of poor judgement or poor decision-making, is not an apology at all.  And it can be spotted faster than Usain Bolt.

A true apology conveys remorse and accepts blame  – to a minor or major degree.  It is sincere, and it closes the issue.

Unfortunately for both Trump and Lochte, the issue isn’t closed.  Their comments and behaviours linger in memories across the globe. All the clever deflections, the efforts to make the problem ‘ours’ and not theirs, have failed.  In their bid to turn the page on their mistakes, they’ve simply embedded them.