Dear Miss Mannerly:
I am a highly respected journalist for a major, very-long-running and highly respected weekly television news show. On occasion, I am called upon to interview a particular person, a powerful but deeply frustrating individual, and I always try my best to conduct myself like the highly respected professional I am.
But he just makes it so hard! And not just for me –- none of my colleagues and friends can stand him or the people who support him. We don't care for his uncouth, bombastic style, although I must admit he was polite when I was interviewing him.
Being a seasoned, objective journalist who is always in pursuit of the truth, I have felt the need a couple of times to actually correct this man, on camera, right in the middle of our conversation. Perish the thought that I would allow misinformation in one of my interviews! I tried to do it as politely as possible, even calling him “sir” as I corrected him. But both times, stories came out later that showed him, technically, to be right, I suppose. In the last instance, I had told him a particular piece of evidence was ‘unverified” when apparently it was real. Goodness, that was an honest mistake. if it was real, why would our own FBI have chosen not to reveal it?
Anyway, now some are saying not only that I owe him an apology, but two apologies. How should I handle this?
If she is not mistaken, Miss Mannerly believes she saw both of those “Clueless” interviews. Here is what you should do, without delay:
Go to your desk and select two pieces of the most beautiful personal stationery you own. Hand-write, preferably in calligraphy if you are skilled in that area, two heartfelt thank-you’s to this gentleman for allowing you to interview him. Apologize profusely for correcting him on camera, and admit you were wrong –- wrong in your facts, and wrong to falsely “correct” him. Include an offer to issue an on-camera apology if he would like you to do this, admitting you were wrong and promising that it will never happen again.
Mail these two letters of apology under separate cover. On the flap of each envelope, it would be a nice touch to add a wax stamp with the CBS logo, to at least offer the impression that your colleagues are sorry as well. Perhaps the producers of your show would like to write separate letters of apology. Miss Mannerly assumes they are all very sorry, as she has heard on occasion that yours is a “sorry show.”
It would be thoughtful to send flowers as well; make sure the bouquet includes some purple lisianthus, the flower of appreciation and gratitude.