No denying

On admissions of guilt

December 19, 2007|By BILL ORDINE

Confession, someone said, is good for the soul. Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts felt obliged to confess to his steroids use, but as confessions go, Roberts' admission was small potatoes. Here's some real big-league confessing from sports figures to presidents to philosophers.

Clifford Irving

In 1971, a big-time book publisher announced with great fanfare that a new work was forthcoming on reclusive bazillionaire Howard Hughes to be written by author Clifford Irving. There was just one problem. The book was hooey, a giant hoax. Irving hoodwinked folks at McGraw-Hill, Life magazine and even master news skeptic Mike Wallace. But when Hughes broke his silence and outed Irving as a phony, it all unraveled in a hurry. In late January 1972, Irving confessed to the fraud, returned his advance of more than $700,000 and was sent to prison for 17 months.

Pete Rose

Beginning in 1989, allegations surfaced that Pete Rose had bet on baseball. Rose denied the allegations but accepted a ban from baseball. In 1990, he was convicted on federal income tax charges. In an autobiography in 2004, Rose admitted to his gambling habits and also has admitted to betting on his own team, the Cincinnati Reds. He has continued to insist he never bet against the Reds. He remains banned from baseball and ineligible for election into the Hall of Fame.

Milli Vanilli

The "singers" were the hunky Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus. In the late 1980s and into 1990, the pop music group sold millions of records and won a Grammy. But there was growing suspicion among the music press about the talent responsible for the hit songs. In late 1990, Morvan, Pilatus and Frank Farian, who had founded the group and had recruited the two German model-dancers, confessed that Fab and Rob were not the singers on the records. The group was stripped of its Grammy, lawsuits followed and the group's name is now synonymous with clumsy fakery.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

The 18th-century French philosopher wrote the book on confession, calling it, well, Confessions. In this autobiography, Rousseau confesses to a whole lifetime of shortcomings, including abandoning five illegitimate children at an orphanage. His personal conduct stood in contrast to his philosophical utterances in another work, Emile, in which he discusses the value and potential in children and the importance of education.

Bill Clinton

In a famous televised declaration in January 1998, President Bill Clinton said of Monica Lewinsky, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman" - now a cliche Big Fib. But with the country consumed by the scandal, an investigation under way and impeachment pressure mounting, in another TV address in August 1998, Clinton confessed to the nation saying, "I know that my public comments and my silence about this matter gave a false impression. I misled people, including even my wife. I deeply regret that." He avoided impeachment, but his conduct gave the Republicans ammunition that helped them win the White House in 2000.

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