Geraldo’s hilarious non-apology

The pundit says he's sorry -- even though "one prominent black conservative" thinks he's right

Topics: Trayvon Martin, Fox News,

Geraldo's hilarious non-apologyGeraldo Rivera (Credit: AP)

Ah, the non-apology apology. It’s a classic. But leave it to Geraldo Rivera to take it to a whole new level.

In a gesture of appeasement after the outcry over his stunning assertion last week that “Trayvon Martin’s hoodie killed him as surely as George Zimmerman did,” the mustachioed Fox pundit sent an email to Politico in which he offered a “sincere and heartfelt apology” for his words. On his radio show, he added that his “own family and friends believe I have obscured or diverted attention from the principal fact, which is that an unarmed 17-year-old was shot dead by a man who was never seriously investigated by local police.” And then he went and threw in, “And if that is true, I apologize.” If it’s not, suck on it, I guess.

But the best line in Rivera’s mea culpa was his explanation that “I apologize to anyone offended by what one prominent black conservative called my ‘very practical and potentially life-saving campaign urging black and Hispanic parents not to let their children go around wearing hoodies.’” See that? Geraldo is sorry if you, a no doubt hoodie-wearing tiny brain, were offended by Mr. Rivera’s AWESOMENESS. But an actual black person was not, so, maybe it’s on you.

The old, “I’m sorry you feel that way” (a variation of “but it’s your fault anyway”) is familiar to anyone who’s ever wiped the bootprints of passive-aggressiveness off his or her face. Stop me if you’ve heard this before: “Oh, I’m sorry if you can’t take a joke/didn’t understand/were bothered by me just being me.”

Last year, Kobe Bryant explained that “What I said last night should not be taken literally” after he called a referee a “faggot.” He then went on to say, “The words expressed do NOT reflect my feelings towards the gay and lesbian communities and were NOT meant to offend anyone.” After throwing a tantrum on the set of “Good Morning America” last year, Chris Brown explained that “I got very emotional, and I apologize for acting like that.” He also felt the need to add that he felt the appearance was calculated to “exploit” him and that “I took it very, very hard. When I got back, I just let off steam in the back.” See? He was just letting off steam.

Remember Scott Adams, who, after declaring that “society is organized in such a way that the natural instincts of men are shameful and criminal while the natural instincts of women are mostly legal and acceptable,” graciously apologized “for any lack of clarity on my part that was deemed offensive” – an apology he extended, by the way, solely “to the women who are not batshit crazy.” And then there was Michigan mayor Janice Daniels, who after declaring she was tossing her “I love NY” tote bag “now that queers can get married there,” said that she was sorry but it “was meant to be a joke, silly, a funny thing.”

The backpedaled apology has been getting quite a workout just this week. Tuesday, Red Sox pitcher John Lackey apologized for tossing off the word “retarded” in a Boston Globe interview, explaining that he was sorry and “I meant no harm.” And after accusing Rep. Carolyn Maloney of “an outright lie” when she asked, “Where are the women? When I look at this panel, I don’t see one, single woman,” about last month’s contraception hearing, House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa sent a letter saying, “I regret that my choice of words … did not reflect the collegial relationship and open communication you and I have long enjoyed.” Calling someone an outright liar: It’s just a choice of words, yo.

So how do you do an apology right? Take a tip from the liquored-up folks. After running a rape-promoting Facebook ad featuring a man in what looks like mid-assault of a frightened woman last week, Belvedere vodka hastily withdrew it, officially saying, “We sincerely apologize to any of our fans who were offended by our recent post and related comments. As always, we continue to be an advocate of safe and responsible drinking.” But then the company’s president Charles Gibb did one better. “I would like to personally apologize for the offensive post that recently appeared on our Facebook page,” he wrote. “It should never have happened. I am currently investigating the matter to determine how this happened and to be sure it never does so again. The content is contrary to our values and we deeply regret this lapse. As an expression of our regret over this matter we have made a donation to RAINN (America’s largest anti-sexual violence organization).”

Clear. Concise. The word “if” appears nowhere in the statement. Instead, there’s a gesture of atonement. You wouldn’t necessarily expect something like that from Ego Gone Wild Geraldo Rivera, but it’s a good template for anyone who’s planning on screwing up and saying something stupid ever again in life. Just say you’re sorry. Don’t say that you were provoked or that other people thought you were right.

Say you’re sorry. And then shut up.

Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a staff writer for Salon and the author of "Gimme Shelter: My Three Years Searching for the American Dream." Follow her on Twitter: @embeedub.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    Burger King Japan

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Burger King's black cheeseburger: Made with squid ink and bamboo charcoal, arguably a symbol of meat's destructive effect on the planet. Only available in Japan.

    Elite Daily/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    McDonald's Black Burger: Because the laws of competition say that once Burger King introduces a black cheeseburger, it's only a matter of time before McDonald's follows suit. You still don't have to eat it.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    Domino's Specialty Chicken: It's like regular pizza, except instead of a crust, there's fried chicken. The company's marketing officer calls it "one of the most creative, innovative menu items we have ever had” -- brain power put to good use.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    Arby's Meat Mountain: The viral off-menu product containing eight different types of meat that, on second read, was probably engineered by Arby's all along. Horrific, regardless.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    KFC'S ZINGER DOUBLE DOWN KING: A sandwich made by adding a burger patty to the infamous chicken-instead-of-buns creation can only be described using all caps. NO BUN ALL MEAT. Only available in South Korea.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Waffle Taco: It took two years for Taco Bell to develop this waffle folded in the shape of a taco, the stand-out star of its new breakfast menu.

    Michele Parente/Twitter

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Krispy Kreme Triple Cheeseburger: Only attendees at the San Diego County Fair were given the opportunity to taste the official version of this donut-hamburger-heart attack combo. The rest of America has reasonable odds of not dropping dead tomorrow.

    Taco Bell

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Taco Bell's Quesarito: A burrito wrapped in a quesadilla inside an enigma. Quarantined to one store in Oklahoma City.

    2014's fast food atrocities

    Boston Pizza's Pizza Cake: The people's choice winner of a Canadian pizza chain's contest whose real aim, we'd imagine, is to prove that there's no such thing as "too far." Currently in development.


    2014's fast food atrocities

    7-Eleven's Doritos Loaded: "For something decadent and artificial by design," wrote one impassioned reviewer, "it only tasted of the latter."

  • Recent Slide Shows



Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>