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Opinion Matt Lauer embraces the accused sexual harasser’s caveat

NBC announced the termination of "Today" host Matt Lauer on Nov. 29. The following morning, Lauer issued an apology. (Video: Monica Akhtar/The Washington Post)

After letting the newsphere chew on the thunderous story of his firing from NBC News for sexual misconduct, fallen “Today” show co-host Matt Lauer has issued an apology. Here it is:

There are no words to express my sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused others by words and actions. To the people I have hurt, I am truly sorry. As I am writing this, I realize the depth of the damage and disappointment I have left behind at home and at NBC.
Some of what is being said about me is untrue or mischaracterized, but there is enough truth in these stories to make me feel embarrassed and ashamed. I regret that my shame is now shared by the people I cherish dearly.
Repairing the damage will take a lot of time and soul-searching and I’m committed to beginning that effort. It is now my full-time job. The last two days have forced me to take a very hard look at my own troubling flaws. It’s been humbling. I am blessed to be surrounded by the people I love. I thank them for their patience and grace.

That’s pretty much pro forma these days for a busted sexual harasser: Pile on the regret, shame, disappointment and sorrow. Express a willingness to reckon. AND: Leave some wiggle room on the particulars: “Some of what is being said about me is untrue or mischaracterized, but there is enough truth in these stories to make me feel embarrassed and ashamed.” That’s the benefit-of-the-doubt clause.

When movie mogul Harvey Weinstein got busted, he said, in part, “I appreciate the way I’ve behaved with colleagues in the past has caused a lot of pain, and I sincerely apologize for it. Though I’m trying to do better, I know I have a long way to go.” And a rep added that “he denies many of the accusations as patently false.”

When roving pundit Mark Halperin got busted, he issued a lengthy statement hitting all the right notes. He also tucked in this disclaimer: “Some of the allegations that have been made against me are not true. But I realize that is a small point in the scheme of things.”

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When TV news mainstay Charlie Rose got busted, he said, in part, “I have behaved insensitively at times, and I accept responsibility for that, though I do not believe that all of these allegations are accurate.”

Okay, Matt, Harvey, Mark and Charlie: Please specify precisely which allegations have been untrue or inaccurate. Was it the one where you’re accused of dropping your pants in front of a female colleague (Matt); or where you’re accused of grabbing a woman and masturbating in front of her (Harvey); or when you were accused of pressing your erection against female staffers (Mark); or where you’re accused of walking around naked in front of women and also groping them (Charlie)?

Speak up! We wouldn’t want your legacies as sexual harassers to be unduly exaggerated.