The art of the apology: How high-profile men have responded to allegations of sexual misconduct

When comedian Louis C.K. was hit by allegations of sexual misconduct from two female comedians, he responded with a nearly 500-word statement that included the words, “These stories are true.”

When Kevin Spacey faced multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, he issued a less than 200-word statement that ended with a declaration of his sexuality as a gay man.

Frazer Harrison/BAFTA LA/Getty Images
Kevin Spacey speaks onstage at the 2017 AMD British Academy Britannia Awards, Oct. 27, 2017, in Beverly Hills, California.

Behind each carefully crafted statement is likely a team of advisers: a crisis PR person, a lawyer and often a manager, an agent, a partner and a trusted confidante.

“Then you have to go through a decision process and that is, ‘Do I want to make a statement or not? And am I going to deny it or am I going to acknowledge it?’” according to one entertainment insider who asked not to be named.

The words women, behavior, learn, apologize, inappropriate, actions, regret and true were commonly used in statements issued by 11 public figures in response to allegations of sexual misconduct, according to an ABC News analysis. I, me and my were the most-used words overall.

ABC News
Words gathered from 11 statements in response to sexual misconduct allegations.

The statements analyzed were issued on behalf of Spacey, Louis C.K., Matt Lauer, Harvey Weinstein and Charlie Rose, in addition to Russell Simmons, Sen. Al Franken, Jeffrey Tambor, Mark Halperin, New York Times reporter Glenn Thrush and Dustin Hoffman.

Getty Images
From top left, Harvey Weinstein, Mark Halperin, Louis C.K., Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer, Glenn Thrush, Jeffery Tambor, Dustin Hoffman, Russell Simmons and Kevin Spacey.

“I think overall they’re probably a C or C minus,” Bryan H. Reber, a professor in crisis communication leadership at the University of Georgia, told ABC News of the statements. “Some are coming out quickly and doing sort of half apologies, which is not really satisfying.”

Reber, who worked in public relations for 15 years, said the key to successfully responding to a communications crisis is to not make it about yourself, but to accept responsibility and offer some type of solution.

He pointed to the statement issued by Spacey in early November as a particularly bad response. Spacey tweeted the statement shortly after actor Anthony Rapp accused him of making a sexual advance toward him more than 30 years ago, when Rapp was 14 and Spacey…

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