Will an apology suffice? Two days after referring to Mike Pompeo as a “wannabe dictator’s butt boy” on the diplomatic stage and generating outrage, Mika Brzezinski offered a clear and explicit apology for her remarks. “I just wanted to say on camera,” Brzezinski said, “looking people straight in the eye: I am really, really sorry.”
She didn’t waste any time getting to the apology, either. It was the first item on today’s Morning Joe:
Mika Brzezinski, a co-host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” apologized on Friday for using what she called “crass and offensive” language to describe Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
“Please allow me to say this face-to-face,” she said live at the top of the 6 a.m. ET show. “The term is crass and offensive and I apologize to everybody, especially the LGBTQ community and to my colleagues.”
It’s a solid apology. Brzezinski doesn’t offer an “if you were offended” dodge, but instead acknowledges that her comment was offensive on its face. She apologizes directly to “the LGBTQ community” which has the most reason to be offended — other than Pompeo himself, who didn’t get a mention in this apology. She had earlier apologized on Twitter, shortly after making the remarks, but the need to address it on air was obvious. Brzezinski is sincere, abject, and direct, all commendable qualities for someone who recognizes she did wrong and wants to make amends.
Still … doesn’t this seem reminiscent of another apology — abject, sincere, direct, and on the same network?
That didn’t get Kelly much credit with NBC. The network took her off the air not over a bigoted term used as an insult but over an ill-considered attempt to debate a point, albeit respectfully, despite this painful apology. Kelly’s offense was so supposedly grave and unforgivable that NBC ended up eating a large part of her contract to get rid of her, rather than find a new slot for the star they had wooed away from Fox News.
Will that happen with Brzezinski? No, and it shouldn’t. We all make mistakes, even unthinkingly cruel mistakes on occasion, and we should all have the chance to apologize sincerely and make amends. Accepting apologies and giving people space to improve themselves allows us the freedom to apologize for our own missteps. That exchange creates the goodwill necessary to live together despite differing views and values. When we become so brittle that an apology cannot be accepted, especially over a mistaken point of view rather than an insult, and when shunning becomes the only acceptable response, we build walls instead of communities and resentments instead of relationships.
NBC should allow Brzezinski to have that opportunity, but they should be asked why Megyn Kelly didn’t get the same consideration.