Why Rick Sanchez’s Half Apology Stinks

Last week, I offered former CNN anchor Rick Sanchez six tips to help him restore his reputation after he lost his job for making Anti-Semitic comments during a radio interview.

The six tips seemed obvious, including such advice as offering an unqualified apology, dropping the self-pity, and issuing a private apology to Jon Stewart (who he blasted during the interview).  He failed on all three counts.

First, Mr. Sanchez’s apology tour began in one of the most unusual ways I’ve ever seen – with his wife posting comments on her Facebook page explaining her husband’s behavior (he was tired when he made the offending comments, she wrote). If there’s a more lame response than having your spouse issue your first public apology, I’ve yet to see it.

She also wrote that her husband had spoken to Jon Stewart – so much for my advice to keep the call private to prevent it from looking like a calculated P.R. ploy.

Mr. Sanchez appeared on Good Morning America late last week, where he failed to take two other pieces of my (unsolicited) advice: to drop the self-pity and offer an unqualified apology.

Really, Rick Sanchez? You made your disgusting comments because you were tired and upset that Jon Stewart had been picking on you?

Worse, you referred to your comments (numerous times) as “inartful,” defined as “Awkwardly expressed but not necessarily untrue?”

Finally, you mentioned the name of your new book while holding it up not once, but twice? Was this supposed to come off as a sincere apology or a bonus stop on your book tour?

I have no way of knowing how sincere Mr. Sanchez actually feels. But he did little to convince me – and likely many other viewers – that he feels sorry for anything other than the cost to his own career and reputation.

The Right Way to Apologize
Check out this clip from MSNBC Host Lawrence O’Donnell. When he carelessly used racially insensitive language to describe Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele last week, Mr. O’Donnell issued one of the most sincere apologies I’ve ever seen.

The public doesn’t demand perfection, but it does expect sincerity. And, to borrow a term not likely to be associated with Mr. Sanchez any time soon, Mr. O’Donnell’s apology made him look like a perfect mensch.

Click here to see my original article about the crisis communications advice Rick Sanchez should take, including an audio clip of his offending statements.