How Not To Give a Public Apology: A Video Primer for Tiger Woods

After months of anticipation, The Fallen One Tiger Woods will finally speak publicly this morning about his sex addiction (or at least, his addiction to having sex with an assortment of bar skanks and porn actresses). Don't expect pointed queries from a variety of media outlets, Woods won't be taking questions when he does his best act of contrition at TPC Sawgrass, and only three wire services and a handful of reporters vetted by the "Golf Writers Association" will be in attendance.

The Public Apology is merely the second step in the Celebrity Spin Control Battle Plan (Woods already completed Step 1, allegedly undergoing rehab for his sex addiction), but it's an important one, and it's in Woods' best interest that he not screw it up. Luckily, I'm here to help, and because I too have known the torment that comes from earning billions of dollars playing a silly game while being married to a Swedish swimsuit model, I'm offering a few examples of the types of apologies that Woods would be better off avoiding.

The "Please Don't Kill Me" (Otto, A Fish Called Wanda)

Otto (Kevin Kline) is trying to avoid unpleasant death at the hands of Ken. Woods is trying to avoid the demise of both his career and his marriage. At least he hasn't tried to actually kill anyone. Yet.

The "Steve Martin" (Steve Martin)

While we can imagine any number of things that Woods might say as he offers his maxima mea culpa, we doubt the American public or Elin would be very receptive to "Excuuuse me!"

The "I'm Sorry For Whatever It Was You Think I Did" (Rush Limbaugh)

Rush Limbaugh claimed actor and Parkinson's Disease sufferer Michael J. Fox was exaggerating his symptoms in a campaign ad he filmed for Missouri Senate candidate Claire McCaskill. It was widely reported that Limbaugh apologized for his comments after widespread backlash. As this clip from Media Matters shows, Limbaugh did no such thing, but actually said:

"Now, people are telling me that they have seen Michael J. Fox in interviews and he does appear the same way in the interviews as he does in this commercial. All right, then, I stand corrected. ... So I will bigly, hugely admit that I was wrong, and will apologize to Michael J. Fox if I am wrong in characterizing his behavior on this commercial as an act."

A parallel for Tiger might be, "I will apologize to Elin if I am wrong about porking those [alleged] women, and to my sponsors for their assumption that I was the same sort of upstanding individual I relentlessly presented myself to be."

The "Blame the Jews" (Mel Gibson)

Frankly, this would be a tough sell. Unlike Mel Gibson, Woods wasn't raised a rabid anti-Semite whackjob (who lives right here in Houston). I don't doubt he used the expression "sugar tits" at some point in his dalliances, however.

The "Give 'Til it Hurts" (Joe Wilson)

Before being dropped by sponsors like Accenture and Tag Heuer, Woods was raking in millions of dollars a year, so it's hard to imagine he would use this opportunity to beg for donations like Wilson, but stranger things have happened.

The "Rage of A Nation" (Michael Richards)

Almost funnier than Richards' using the phrase "Afro-Americans" here (or saying "I'm not a racist") is Seinfeld's stern admonition that it's "not funny." But none of that would hold a candle to Woods if he tried to attribute his behavior to some sort of national hate epidemic, which Richards seems to think led to his diatribe.

The "Morning After" (Kanye West)

We've all been in Kanye's shoes. Maybe we didn't wake up on a Monday and realize we'd made a jackass of ourselves (the President's words, not ours) in front of a TV audience of millions, but we've all woken up after a few magnums of Cristal with a headache and a throbbing sense of regret. Tiger's going to have a hard time blaming the booze for all of those "hostesses," however.

The "Galactically Stupid" Defense (A Few Good Men)

Lt. Cdr. Galloway's (Demi Moore) crack about losing Kaffee his set of steak knives is a nice line, but it ignores the fact that she did, in fact, screw up the testimony prep for Pfc. Downey. Woods could go a similar route, and just admit to being a complete idiot, but it's a long shot.

The "Insanity Plea"(Castaway)'s a volleyball.

I don't know what the Vegas line is on Tiger trying to claim "diminished capacity" for every instance of his philandering, but I wouldn't take the bet. And I bet on the Colts.

The "Privacy Card" (Tiger Woods)

Finally, we have the man himself, briefly apologizing for "letting his family down" and then launching into a diatribe against the media for daring to make a big deal out of it. Because truly, it was we who were responsible for carefully crafting the image of a peerless athlete and devoted husband and father, and not Woods or his army of publicists. Shame on us, America.

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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar