Usually, when people apologize twice, they do better the second time. Not always. Celebrity chef and entrepreneur Mario Batali recently stepped down from managing his businesses. He’s also not appearing on the food show The Chew, while ABC ponders whether to keep him. ABC said they only just heard the allegations about Batali committing acts of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct against numerous women. (Including one who was unconscious.) After receiving a petition with thousands of signatures, Target announced they’d stop carrying his cookbooks. Nor will he be catering the SorryWatch awards fest.
In a statement given to Eater, Batali said this:
I apologize to the people I have mistreated and hurt. Although the identities of most of the individuals mentioned in these stories have not been revealed to me, much of the behavior described does, in fact, match up with ways I have acted. That behavior was wrong and there are no excuses. I take full responsibility and am deeply sorry for any pain, humiliation or discomfort I have caused to my peers, employees, customers, friends and family.
I have work to do to try to regain the trust of those I have hurt and disappointed. For this reason, I am going to step away from day-to-day operations of my businesses. We built these restaurants so that our guests could have fun and indulge, but I took that too far in my own behavior. I won’t make that mistake again. I want any place I am associated with to feel comfortable and safe for the people who work or dine there.
I know my actions have disappointed many people. The successes I have enjoyed are owned by everyone on my team. The failures are mine alone. To the people who have been at my side during this time — my family, my partners, my employees, my friends, my fans — I am grateful for your support and hopeful that I can regain your respect and trust. I will spend the next period of time trying to do that.
That’s bad. He does say ‘I apologize.’ Point for that. You’re supposed to apologize directly to the people you’ve offended, but Batali suggests that he can’t apologize to the people he mistreated because he doesn’t know who they are. Any of them. He does not say what he’s apologizing for. What were “my actions,” “ways I have acted,” or “my behavior”? If you were just reading this statement after waking from a cryogenic sleep of several months, you would not know what was this about. Racism? Sexism? Plagiarism? It’s a mystery! Apparently he made some kind of mistake. He says nothing about, for example, grabbing and rubbing a woman’s breasts in a public place.
If no one can tell what you’re apologizing for, are you really apologizing for it?
He alludes to causing (or possibly causing – see that “any”) pain, humiliation or discomfort by whatever it was he did. This is an example of minimizing – he doesn’t mention employees who quit or were fired because of his “actions.”
Subsequently Batali apologized again, in his newsletter. Second time! Should be better.
As many of you know, this week there has been some news coverage about some of my past behavior.
I have made many mistakes and I am so very sorry that I have disappointed my friends, my family, my fans and my team. My behavior was wrong and there are no excuses. I take full responsibility.
Sharing the joys of Italian food, tradition and hospitality with all of you, each week, is an honor and privilege. Without the support of all of you – my fans – I would never have a forum in which to expound on this.
I will work every day to regain your respect and trust.
ps. in case you’re searching for a holiday-inspired breakfast, these Pizza Dough Cinnamon Rolls are a fan favorite.
Worse. Even vaguer. Apparently there was past behavior that was wrong and disappointing. Embezzlement? Loud singing? Violation of labor laws? Notice that this time he’s only talking about his friends, fans, etc. – the women he transgressed against have vanished.
And then there’s the fatal pivot to cinnamon rolls. Enough about me, let’s change the subject! Happy thoughts! Ho ho ho!
Perhaps Batali thought it would work to revert to his usual newsletter format after he got the apology out of the way. Instead, the second apology’s witless postscript earned widespread derision. Apparently no one was searching for a holiday-inspired breakfast.
He’s not the only one to try to change the subject at the end of an apology. Even though that never works. At the end of Harvey Weinstein’s recent apology, he said he was going to turn his anger on the NRA, make a movie about Trump that would make him retire, and create a scholarship to give money to women directors at USC. (In other words, young women directors. Uh huh.)
In Kevin Spacey’s awful apology he changes the subject to his sexuality. Which – so what? No.
We’re telling you, THAT NEVER WORKS. At the end of an apology you should stop talking and listen.
Apologists like these guys just want it to be over. They’d like to forget the whole thing, and they want us to forget too, and they’re trying to HELP EVERYONE FORGET.
Wow, look over there – it’s the Winged Victory of Samothrace! Watch me battle the mighty NRA! Did you know polar bears and grizzly bears can interbreed? I’m finally ready to tell you I’m gay! What do you think I should spend all these millions on? Have a pastry!