Years ago a parent accused a teacher of denigrating her child's lifestyle. Of course, that wasn't what he said but she insisted that he apologize. The principal,being in a tight spot, decided to support the parent. The teacher didn't want to apologize for something he never said, so he wrote a letter saying he was sorry that the parent misunderstood, etc. He told me how he had finessed the apology without accepting responsibility. He knew was innocent of the charges.
Today, it seems that this is too often the case when people are guilty of some wrong doing.
When David Letterman disparaged Bristol Palin, his first apology was more of a joke than contrition. Only after pressure did he actually apologize.
Most recently Kanye West grabbed the microphone and interrupted Taylor Swift's acceptance speech. His first response was to justify his actions, adding that no disrespect was intended. Only after intense pressure and increased outrage did he actually said he was sorry.
A basic rule in media training is this:
When a crisis occurs, take responsibility and do it quickly.
When people in business or in the public eye, beat around the bush and talk around an apology, it only festers. Kanye is now in a major damage control situation and continues to say his mea culpas.
If you've made an error in a professional or personal situation, apologize. Effective communication is clear, specific, and direct. When you're wrong, say so. Like the words of the old Brenda Lee song, say "I'm sorry."