How to Gracefully Admit to a Mistake

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on November 20, 2010

Courtesy of Joe Scarborough, who, along with Keith Olbermann, violated MSNBC policies by making campaign donations without authorization:

“I recognize that I have a responsibility to honor the guidelines and conditions of my employment, and I regret that I failed to do so in this matter,” Scarborough said in a statement. “I apologize to MSNBC and to anyone who has been negatively affected by my actions,” he said, adding that after he was made aware of some of the contributions, he called MSNBC President Phil Griffin “and agreed with Phil’s immediate demand of a two-day suspension without pay.”

Imagine if Olbermann had been that contrite, instead of combatively insisting that he did nothing wrong. Again, to be sure, there is a good case for the proposition that MSNBC’s policy on this issue is foolish and outdated. But it is policy, and if one violates it as an employee of MSNBC, one has to expect a certain penalty. At the very least, Scarborough had the decency to fess up to his mistake, instead of trying, as Olbermann did, to turn himself into some kind of martyr, persecuted by the powers-that-be.

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