Wednesday, August 17, 2016

An Apology

I screwed up today. In my National Review article (read here) on working for John McLaughlin (JM), I was self-absorbed and to some degree self-aggrandizing. Here are the two issues.

First, as I infer in the article, I emailed John McLaughlin via comments@Mclaughlin.com in April 2014. The 4th of April 2014, to be precise. But I did not hear anything from JM until John Roberts, John McLaughlin's longtime senior producer, reached out to me and kindly advised me to apply for the Tony Blankley fellowship at the Steamboat Institute. JM did indeed invite me to participate in the first show in late July 2014 as I note in the article, but as I think more carefully and with previously absent humility, it was very likely under John Roberts's (JR) advice that he did so. Failing to note that JM invited me - without accounting for JR's advice - was a serious omission. And one that I sincerely regret.

Second, in my National Review article, and in regards to my producer work for JM, I write ''The producing involved writing introductions to each issue for every show.'' While I had some role in every issue - at least on the day of production (Friday) - and wrote the significant majority of issues for each show, two of JM's senior producers, John Roberts and Alice Dunscomb (in 2014) also wrote issues. Not explicitly clarifying that team effort was the consequence of my effort to give a personal take on John McLaughlin. But it was also arrogant and representative of un-serious self-scrutiny. I should have written ''The producing involve writing introductions to most issues for every show. I consulted with JM's senior producers John Roberts and Alice Dunscomb (in 2014) in these efforts, and benefited from their tutelage.''

Regardless, the key issue here is a serious one. The McLaughlin Group has always been a team enterprise with a unique sense of companionship. That's why I referenced our Director, Shelly Schwartz, and his crew in the NR article. But I failed to give enough credit to John Roberts and to Alice. It was an omission born of oversight and arrogance, but not malice. Still, it was a serious oversight and I regret it very much. And I regret my mistake not simply for professional reasons. That leads to the personal side of this concern.

When I applied for the Tony Blankley fellowship in 2014, I did so with the support of JR. Let me be clear, without JR, I would be a nobody. That fellowship - and the connections, support (including monetary), camaraderie that it brought, were instrumental in my ability to continue working as a journalist. Without that fellowship, I would likely be working as a waiter. Nothing wrong with that. But waitering is not my dream, writing in assertion of conservatism is. But JR and his wife, Elizabeth, have been more than mentors to me. They have been friends. Friends who took me and my mother to a Mexican restaurant at the end of the 2014 Steamboat Institute summit. And friends who have guided (and argued... trade!) with me in order to help me develop. I let them down today. And I regret it deeply. I also - in equal measure - regret my arrogance in failing to look in the mirror before I wrote my article on JM.

If there is one positive in all this, it is this. Today's failure, like my positive formative experience in joining the McLaughlin Group, has been exceptionally formative. Going forwards, I will judge myself more harshly in what I write. When I retire/die, I want my legacy to be one of integrity and honesty. That's what Tony Blankley would want. That's what John McLaughlin would want. And that's what I want.

28 comments:

  1. I'm not sure why this apology is merited however the apology is coming from you and it must be warranted since you are a class act. And although you joined "the group" with your admonisment of the Republican candidate (at the time), I think you are wasting your time if you are trying to save face with your mentors. Truly they must know the depths of your integrity and that is all that matters.

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  2. Thanks Tom. Your integrity is pure and quite evident. I have been a fan of yours since I first heard your voice on the panel and asked out loud to an empty room why I was hearing a Brit on McLaughlin. Since I prefer to watch each episode on tape delay for various reasons and often do so in the compressed time allowed by parenthood, I've recently found myself fast forwarding other panelists' responses to topics posed by your late leader and stopping only if/when you begin to speak. I also devour your articles when pushed by the McLaughlin Facebook feed. Thanks for sharing yourself with we viewers and your sincere apology for a momentary lapse. I imagine that losing a friend like JM makes one's thought process incomplete. Regardless, although it's not my place to provide forgiveness in this case, I can easily understand the path which led to your apology message and wish you heartfelt condolences.

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  3. Atta Boy Tom! All is forgiven!

    Al-Chicago

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    1. It takes a real 'man' to publicly admit his mistakes. You will be better for this experience.

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  4. It is powerful to see an individual display integrity and confidence that they can offer such powerful written critique of oneself. "There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self."
    Ernest Hemingway

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  5. Great piece Tom. Our politicians could learn much about honesty by reading it!

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  6. Given the overall circumstances I am sure those you mentioned understand.

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  7. Showing respect Good for you Tom

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  8. Awww Tom, your British civility is greatly appreciated and recognised...even by those of us who disagree vehemently with most of your views. Sorry for your loss but thanks for your insight into the man JM!

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  9. Well done Tom...well done!

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  10. Well done.

    John is smiling from heaven

    Joe Quinn, Forest Hills, NYC
    www.quinncorp.us.com

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  11. We need to see more of this. Good on you. Love your work on the show BTW.

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  12. You retain this liberal's respect. But you should dream bigger than, "writing in assertion of conservatism." I have found your participation on The Group edifying because many times you rise above the tribalism that is conservative vs liberal. I hope you continue your career dedicated to writing in the service of facts and evidence, dedicated to espousing what's best for our country and our world regardless of wether those ideas are conservative of liberal.

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    1. I agree, you do a great job!

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    2. Tom. As always I am impressed. Your apology shows what an outstanding man you are. My faith in you never wavered. I will always be a fan

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  13. Tom for moderator! Keep the show going!

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  14. I have nothing against JR or Alice, but it would seem to me that Tom's article was a eulogy to John McLaughlin. Others complaining that they were not front and center in a eulogy to their colleague seems very petty to me. Again, nothing against these two, who I'm sure were very instrumental in the production of a show that I enjoy. But this was an ode to John. It did not need to be strictly factually accurate to every detail of who worked on John's show or how it was produced. I felt like Tom's article was about Tom's feelings and relationship to this great man. It did not need to include others or their role in the show. In fact, I think that doing so would have diminished the focus on the man himself. FYI, I am not a friend of Tom's or a surrogate for him. I am simply a long time viewer of the show. And I think this squabbling about a heartfelt eulogy is silly and would not have been John's idea of a good discussion so soon after his passing.

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  15. I have nothing against JR or Alice, but it would seem to me that Tom's article was a eulogy to John McLaughlin. Others complaining that they were not front and center in a eulogy to their colleague seems very petty to me. Again, nothing against these two, who I'm sure were very instrumental in the production of a show that I enjoy. But this was an ode to John. It did not need to be strictly factually accurate to every detail of who worked on John's show or how it was produced. I felt like Tom's article was about Tom's feelings and relationship to this great man. It did not need to include others or their role in the show. In fact, I think that doing so would have diminished the focus on the man himself. FYI, I am not a friend of Tom's or a surrogate for him. I am simply a long time viewer of the show. And I think this squabbling about a heartfelt eulogy is silly and would not have been John's idea of a good discussion so soon after his passing.

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  16. Hear hear. Prayers are with John's family and associates.

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  17. You do indeed owe John Roberts a huge debt of gratitude and I am very pleased that you recognized it and apologized. I owe John Roberts a debt as well because I have indeed enjoyed your addition to the group. I have signed up to follow you and I wish you well. I

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  18. Tom, you are a good man. I am moved by your apology, and what it says about your character. JM would be proud of you. I wished you would continue The Group in his memory. We who loved it so much are in withdrawal.

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  19. Tom, you would be a worthy successor to John. We were saddened that the show is cancelled; we had hoped it would continue. Nowhere else have we found a mix of ideologies discussed in the same room!

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  20. Tony Blankley was one of my favorite panelists.

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  21. Tom,

    I think it's time for you to consider starting the next chapter of a "politically charged" program of discussion. I believe you would have had the support of John McLaughlin and he would encourage the same. Is it possible that you would entertain a show of your own?

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  22. Tom, nicely done. You're a good man. I wish you well moving forward.

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  23. Tom,

    Once again you demonstrate are the only one that has the spirit of JM. You and the country (particularly centrists) need ...YOU to develop a Program To Submit PBS to fill this void...They would be open to such programming, I'd do it myself but I'm no Tom Rogan.
    Thank you for your intellectual insights, Craig Forbes

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  24. Now, if only The Clintons would conduct themselves with such class and professionalism!

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