In case you missed it, CNN reporter Wolf Blitzer’s attempt to enforce the journalistic requirement that survivors of natural disasters must thank God for the miracle of their escape (while avoiding mention of God’s responsibility for the deaths and injuries of those who did not) backfired in Moore, Oklahoma,today yesterday, when survivor Rebecca Vitsmun politely declined to follow the script.
Vitsmun had planned to ride out the tornado with her 19-month-old son Anders by huddling in the bathtub of their home, but 10 minutes before the storm hit, she panicked and fled with with the boy in the family car. She and Anders survived unscathed; their house was flattened.
Encouraging survivors to praise the lord is standard reportorial malpractice in these stories, but the presumptuousness with which Blitzer thrust religion into the interview is arresting, and strikes a marked contrast with atheist Vitsmun’s gracious demurral.
At Salon, Mary Elizabeth Williams reviews the week’s celebrity apologies, and finds most wanting. Then she highlights this example of how to apologize with grace:
[L]est you think nobody knows how to own up to bad behavior, there have this week also been some fine examples of how to do it correctly. David Petraeus, the former head of the CIA/ladykiller appeared at a Los Angeles ROTC dinner and got the awkward part out of the way early. “I join you, keenly aware that I am regarded in a different light now than I was a year ago,” Petraeus said. ”I am also keenly aware that the reason for my recent journey was my own doing. So please allow me to begin my remarks this evening by reiterating how deeply I regret — and apologize for — the circumstances that led to my resignation from the CIA and caused such pain for my family, friends and supporters.” Gosh, he makes it look so simple.