Or rather, this is how it should be done.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd
Austin was diagnosed with prostate cancer early in December and had surgery on Dec. 22. On Jan. 1, he was taken by ambulance to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center after experiencing extreme pain due to complications from the surgery and was admitted to the intensive care unit.
He transferred decision-making authorities to Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks, but did not tell her why. And he did not tell Biden and other top officials about his diagnosis, his surgery or hospitalization until several days after was was in the ICU.
Having returned to his office in the Pentagon on Monday, three days later Austin stated at a news conference
I want to be crystal clear. We did not handle this right. And I did not handle this right. I should have also told my team and the American public, and I take full responsibility. I apologize to my teammates and to the American people.
Austin may have added "I apologize" only because reporters and others don't understand that uttering the word "apologize" does not constitute an apology. Moreover, "take full responsibility" is utterly meaningless in a world in which "take responsibility" substitutes seamlessly for "don't blame me."
By contrast was an "apology" issued by the head of Facebook/Meta, who appeared Friday with representatives of social media companies Discord, TikTok, Facebook, and Snap at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing pithily titled "Big Tech and the Online Child Sexual Exploitation Crisis." Mark Zuckerberg was asked by arguably the Senate's leading grandstanders, Josh Hawley of Missouri, "would you like to apologize to them," referring to the families present there who have had a loved one committed suicide or been exploited by social media. The mainstream media was conned.
CNN: Zuckerberg also stood up and apologized to families of children harmed by social media who attended the hearing, saying, 'I’m sorry for everything you have all been through. No one should go through the things that your families have suffered and this is why we invest so much and we are going to continue doing industry wide efforts to make sure no one has to go through the things your families have had to suffer.'”
The Washington Post: Zuckerberg responded to the onslaught of grief by rising from his chair in an extraordinary moment to apologize after pressure from Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) to admit Meta’s wrongdoing.
NBC News: "Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg apologized Wednesday."
AP News: "Zuckerberg has accumulated a long history of public apologies."
CNN: "Zuckerberg also stood up and apologized to families of children harmed by social media who attended the hearing, saying..."
The Hill: "Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg turned his back to senators during a Wednesday hearing to stand and apologize to parents of children who have died or were seriously harmed after suffering abuse through social media."
CNBC: One expert considered Zuckerberg’s testimony “powerful' "especially
when he turned to apologize directly to families who blamed the toxicity of
social media for the loss of a loved one."
Al Jazeera: "This apology adds to a long list of apologies Zuckerberg has issued since he launched Facebook in 2004 when he was 19 years old."
Reuters: "Meta CEO Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday apologized to families at a U.S. Senate hearing about the impact that social media has on children."
PBS: "Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg began a two-day congressional inquisition Tuesday with a public apology for a privacy scandal that has roiled the social media giant he founded more than a decade ago,"
Kansas City Star: "Zuckerberg then stood up, turned to an audience holding up pictures of their loved ones, and apologized."
Also, The Guardian:
Zuckerberg said that he was "sorry for everything you have all been through." He did not admit what that was; did not indicate that Facebook/Meta was responsible for whatever it was; did not concede that he or his platform had made any mistake. This was not Zuckerberg's first rodeo,
That is not an apology. (If an apology had been issued, Meta's attorneys would have been apoplectic.) I, too, am sorry for the parents' loss, just as we all are sorry when a tidal wave, earthquake, or other act of God takes the lives of human beings. Probably, too, is Zuckerberg sorrow for all those casualties. He didn't apologize for those events, either, nor should he have.
When news media get played for suckers and mistake the ordinary for the extraordinary, they fail to recognize the remarkable, even extraordinary, when they encounter it. "I did not handle this right. I should have also..." is a way of assuming responsibility and admitting wrongdoing, which is all too uncommon.