Jenna Fischer just rewrote the celebrity playbook on how to handle the fallout after spreading false information. That sounds specific, but it happens just about as often as I watch "The Office" on Netflix (often).
After Fischer tweeted out incorrect information about the GOP tax reform bill, misleading people on a provision involving deductions for teachers who purchase classroom supplies, she didn't just quietly delete the post. Instead, Fischer published a lengthy letter explaining the error and detailing why she ultimately decided to correct it and apologize.
"I made a mistake and I want to correct it," she wrote. "After reading your feedback and doing additional research I discovered that I tweeted something that was not accurate. Last month, the House of Representatives voted for a tax bill that did kill a $250 deduction for teachers to buy classroom supplies, but in the final bill the deduction was restored. I feel genuinely bad about getting my facts wrong and I’m sorry."
Fischer insisted she "did not mean to spread misinformation" and "was well-intentioned," but had fallen "behind on [her] research."
"I’m not ashamed to say I was wrong and I’m not ashamed to correct. I was taught that taking responsibility is the right thing to do. (Thanks Mom and Dad!) Please accept my apology," she added.
Interestingly, Fischer revealed that she considered keeping the tweet up, initially rationalizing that despite being incorrect, it had "started a great dialogue about how teachers shouldn't have to go out of pocket to pay for school supplies." Recognizing that "listening and learning and admitting when you're wrong" is an important part of dialogue, she ultimately decided against it.
Humility is not a trait often associated with celebrities, but Fischer's letter of apology, which as of this writing had surpassed 90,000 likes on Twitter, sets a helpful example for her peers. People appreciate honesty. They don't want to be misinformed.
Despite common refrains to the contrary, celebrities' political opinions matter. Their platforms are massive, and though people who care about politics might not see them as credible news sources, plenty of people do.
Fischer's concession that she had fallen behind on her research is key. It's hard to stay fully abreast of political developments, especially when it comes to legislation. When you have a social media following bigger than many legitimate news outlets, every political statement should be issued with painful care for accuracy.
Of course, there isn't enough ink in the world for every celebrity to pen an apology like Fischer's for every incorrect tweet they flood the Internet with. But hopefully the positive response she received will help other celebrities understand it's okay to apologize, and even better to apologize with humility and grace.