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The Globe and Mail

In Photos: Infamous celebrity confessions on national TV

Celebrities have long used television to explain and apologize, with varying degrees of success.

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“I wouldn’t dream of asking Chelsea and Mrs. Clinton to forgive me, but I would ask them to know I’m very sorry for what happened and what they’ve been through.” That was Monica Lewinsky speaking to Barbara Walters in 1999 on the subject of what exactly had gone on with President Bill Clinton, and why perhaps it shouldn’t have. The interview on 20/20 drew 48.5 million viewers.

Virginia Sherwood/Reuters

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In February, 2009, baseball star Alex Rodriguez admitted in an emotional interview with ESPN that he had taken steroids for three years when he was a Texas Ranger, at the beginning of the millennium. He apologized to the fans in Texas, blaming the pressure of having to play well. He said, “I did take a banned substance. And for that, I am very sorry and deeply regretful.”


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On a seedy part of Sunset Boulevard in June, 1995, actor Hugh Grant had a fateful encounter with prostitute Divine Brown, a party that was crashed by the LAPD. “What the hell were you thinking?” Jay Leno asked when an abashed Mr. Grant appeared on his show shortly after. Mr. Grant’s trademark fumbling charm served him well: “I did a bad thing,” he replied.


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After failing to take responsibility for the Watergate scandal that shook the world and prematurely ended his presidency, it seemed Richard Nixon might never give America the apology it craved. It took a debonair and slightly down-on-his-luck British television host, David Frost, to elicit a mea culpa: “I let the American people down,” Nixon said in the famous 1977 interview. “And I’ll have to carry that burden with me the rest of my life.”

Ray Stubblebine/AP

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A man, a desk, his conscience, and millions of viewers. In 2009, David Letterman confessed on The Late Show that he had been the victim of an extortion attempt over affairs he was having with women on the staff of his show. The blackmail had led to a grand jury investigation. “I have had sex with women who worked with me on this show,” Letterman told his tittering audience. “Would it be embarrassing if it were made public? Perhaps it would … especially for the women.”


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