A high-profile mea culpa from the nation’s CEO

President Barack Obama gives a clinic on damage control.

President Barack Obama gives a clinic on damage control

You hear it in every seminar. It’s taught in every communications classroom. But rarely is the cardinal rule of crisis communication followed: Admit your mistakes and move on.

When President Barack Obama apologized—that’s right, he said, “I screwed up” —for having supported administration nominees who had tax and lobbying issues, it caught the attention of communicators as well as the American public.

He told NBC: “I’m here on television saying I screwed up and that’s part of the era of responsibility, is not never making mistakes; it’s owning up to them and trying to make sure you never repeat them and that’s what we intend to do.”

Was this the right move? The right wording?

The answer is a resounding “yes” from PR experts who generally praised Obama’s damage control and an upfront candor that burnished the new president’s image—and which has been missing from the White House for quite some time. 

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