KUTV-Ch. 2 anchorwoman Shauna Lake returned to the air on Tuesday, offering a heartfelt apology to viewers after she was arrested on drunk driving charges a week earlier.
(A transcript of her statement is below.)
I'm not entirely sure what to write about this. For 27 years, I've made my living critiquing, commenting on and often criticizing television. But I'm not comfortable critiquing someone's life.
Make no mistake, this is about more than Lake's job. It is about her life.
I have no tolerance for drunk driving. I've known people who have lost their lives to drunk drivers. A classmate was killed by a drunk driver when we were in sixth grade, and, several decades later, I look back and see it as an even bigger tragedy because I can see all the years she lost. And, as a father, I understand the terrible loss her parents suffered.
As Lake acknowledged on Tuesday, she was lucky she didn't hurt — or kill — anybody. Including herself.
At the same time, I don't believe this incident should ruin Lake's life. Most of us wouldn't lose our jobs if we got arrested for DUI once; I see no reason Lake should at this point.
But as a public figure, a journalist and an anchorwoman, Lake is subject to news stories about her arrest. It goes with the territory, as humiliating as it turned out to be.
And while Lake absolutely had to make this public apology, that's something required of very few people arrested on the same charges. It had to be an incredibly difficult thing to do. And Lake came across as contrite and sincere.
In the end, her future at KUTV is dependent on the viewers. If the ratings, her bosses will have to make the hard decision. That's the way TV works.
But I'm hoping both her life and her career get back on track. I'm rooting for her personally and professionally — just as I would with anyone who gets themselves into this situation.
Yes, The Salt Lake Tribune is a content partner with KUTV, although I'm not entirely certain what that entails. But I'd say the same about a staffer at any TV station. I'd like to think that, despite a job description that requires me to be judgmental on a daily basis, I'd avoid judging anyone in the same position too harshly.
Certainly, no one should gloat over this. No one should act holier-than-thou. Anyone who does is demonstrating his or her own lack of character.
No, we don't all make this kind of mistake. But we all make mistakes.
Lake made a big one. She's owned up to it. She apologized. She's going to face the legal consequences.
Let's move on.
Here's a transcript of Shauna Lake's on-air apology, deliver in Tuesday's 5 p.m. KUTV newscast:
"As many of you are aware, last Tuesday night I made a serious lapse in judgment. I drank alcohol after I got off of work, and then I chose to get behind the wheel of my car. I was pulled over, and I was charged with suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol.
"I am ashamed and humiliated by my decision. It was selfish. I could have hurt somone else, or myself.
"It was also selfish because I hurt you, KUTV viewers, who I truly consider to be my friends. You have invited me into your home night after night for 23 years. You have trusted me and considered me a friend, and I let you down. And for that, I am so sorry.
"I also let my KUTV family down — people whom I love, people, some of whom I have worked with for decades. I offer my deepest apologies to my colleagues, who are the very best and kindest people in this business.
"I let my personal friends and family down. Most notably my two sons, who are my life. I hurt them by making this selfish decision. And to all of you — you know who you are — I am so sorry to you.
"I have been humbled and overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support from so many of you during this difficult time. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the sentiments of 'Keep your chin up.' 'We all make mistakes.' 'I'm praying for you' and 'This too shall pass.'
"I also know that some of you are very angry and disappointed in me, and you have every right to be. What I did was wrong. And I just hope over time, night by night, you can learn to trust me again.
"This has been the most painful and challenging experience of my life. However, I believe it might possibly turn out to be the most defining experience of my life as well. Thank you for your support."