Gianforte Apologizes

Greg Gianforte, the Montana Republican candidate running for Congress, "body-slammed" a reporter. The link to audio is at rightGianforte.

His apology letter has gotten high marks, and it does meet some of the criteria discussed in Chapter 7 for an effective apology. A professor emeritus of management and human resources at the Ohio State University's Fisher College of Business analyzed and annotated the letter for The Huffington Post:

Dear Mr. Jacobs: 

I write to express my sincere apology for my conduct on the evening of May 24. My physical response to your legitimate question was unprofessional, unacceptable, and unlawful [acknowledgement of responsibility]. As both a candidate for office and a public official, I should be held to a high standard in my interactions with the press and the public [acknowledgement of responsibility]. My treatment of you did not meet that standard [expression of regret].

Notwithstanding anyone's statements to the contrary, you did not initiate any physical contact with me, and I had no right to assault you. I am sorry for what I did and the unwanted notoriety this has created for you [expression of regret]. I take full responsibility [acknowledgement of responsibility]

I understand the critical role that journalists and the media play in our society. Protections afforded to the press through the Constitution are fundamental to who we are as a nation and the way government is accountable to the people. I acknowledge that the media have an obligation to seek information. I also know that civility in our public discourse is central to a productive dialogue on issues. I had no right to respond the way I did to your legitimate question about healthcare policy [declaration of repentance]. You were doing your job. 

In the hope that perhaps some good news can come of these events, I am making a $50,000 contribution to the Committee To Protect Journalists, an independent non-profit organization that promotes press freedom and that protects the rights of journalists worldwide [offer of repair].

I made a mistake and humbly ask for your forgiveness [request for forgiveness]


Greg Gianforte

On Twitter, @SorryWatch also compliments the letter, but she questions the source. The letter was part of a settlement, so perhaps the words aren't Gianforte's own? 

To me, the letter sounds a bit too perfect. Yes, it hits the right components but, for example, who says, "I....humbly ask for your forgiveness"? And some criteria for apologies discussed in the book are missing. It sounds like a lawyer wrote it.


  • Quiz question: Which criteria discussed in the book are missing from this apology? These may give us a clue about how the letter falls short overall.
  • What's your view of the letter? Is my assessment too harsh?