12.02.09 4:42 PM ET
The Dos and Don'ts of Confessing Affairs
DON’T Blast the Media When You're the One Who Allegedly Cheated with Nine Women
So there's a time to be humble and a time to be indignant, sanctimoniousness, a scold, etc. A public apology is one should personify the first of these. Calling out the media for errors in reporting about Tiger Woods’ domestic life is something best left to his army of lackeys and media sycophants. Here it just comes across as attempting to frame himself as the victim, which he is not.
DON’T Use Your Mother as a Prop
It was a creative move—meant, ostensibly, to garner sympathy for the poor, adulterous, billionaire golfer—but when Tiger hugged his mother after his first public appearance since his “transgressions” were revealed, it only inspired a gag reflex. Sorry, Tiger, but mommy can’t make it better this time.
DO Play the Sheepish, Charming Englishman
After he got caught canoodling with a prostitute on Sunset Strip, Hugh Grant went on The Tonight Show in 1995 to try and scrub his image a bit. And it worked—the candid and charming interview helped Grant overcome the stigma and get back to being a Hollywood heartthrob on screen, and not just in backs of cars.
DON’T Appear Unbearably Smug
After months of denying an affair with video producer Rielle Hunter, in August 2008, former presidential candidate John Edwards sat down with ABC’s Bob Woodruff and confessed to his transgressions. Somehow, though, through his plastic smiles and strategic word choice, he seems about as believable as, well, a lying politcian. Yes, he cheated on his cancer-stricken wife Elizabeth, and yes he knows he’s an egomaniac—but it’s all good, folks, right? It all went downhill from here.
DON’T Judge Lest Ye Be Judged
Maybe John Ensign’s public apology would have gone further had he not called for Bill Clinton’s resignation 11 years prior. (Oops.) Yes, the Nevada senator gave several interviews back in 1998, claiming that Clinton’s credibility was compromised, thanks to the Monica Lewinsky scandal. To make matters worse, like Clinton’s former White House intern, Ensign’s mistress was on his payroll. Will politicans ever learn?
DON’T Stand Next to Your Ashen, Stone-Faced Wife
If you had any sympathy for then-New York Governor Eliot Spitzer when he confessed to sleeping with a high-end prostitute in March 2008—one look at his wife Silda’s face, and it was gone. Dull-eyed and grim, Silda seemed to embody all the pain and humiliation a betrayed woman could feel. She was the archetypal scorned wife. Oh, and the fact that Spitzer rose to power largely thanks to his tough stance on crime? That didn’t help his case, either.
DON’T Overshare About Your Argentinean Love Affair
Conservative South Carolina Governor and rising political star Mark Sanford had already dug himself in deep when he mysteriously disappeared over Father’s Day weekend, then revealed (surprise!) that he was actually down in Argentina visiting his secret lover. But when he continued to gush about said mistress, Maria Belen Chapur, at press conferences—describing her as his “soul mate”—he managed to convince America that he wasn’t only sneaky and irresponsible, but also unhinged. At least wife Jenny Sanford had the foresight not to pull a Silda Spitzer and stand by her so-called man during his confession.
DO Beat the Media to the Punch
Beloved late-night host David Letterman’s admission to relationships with younger staffers may have shocked viewers, but his apology was delievered with such appropriate frankness and inflection that the fiasco may have even won him new fans. His secret? He came off like a regular guy, and the audience appreciated it. The Late Show’s rankings shot up 13 percent since the incident.
DON'T Do Anything Bill Clinton Did
Former President Bill Clinton’s tryst with White House intern Monica Lewinsky may be the most famous case of infidelity committed by a public figure, even if his definition of “sexual relations” may be different than yours or mine. As much good as Clinton has done for the world, we’ll never forget this infamous indiscretion.
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