January 2012: The Five Worst Video Media Disasters

Written by Brad Phillips @MrMediaTraining on January 31, 2012 – 6:12 am

It’s only January. You’d think that public figures would have made a New Year’s resolution to leave their disastrous media gaffes in 2011.

No such luck. This month, a taco-loving mayor, layoff-loving presidential candidate, and threat-loving politician put their feet firmly in their mouths.

Without any further ado, here are the five worst media disasters of January 2012!

(And if you missed the 10 worst media disasters of 2011, click here to catch up.)

5. Michael Moore: Older Voters Are Racist Homophobes

Michael Moore is right that younger people voted for President Obama in larger numbers than older generations did. But his conclusion that older people didn’t vote for President Obama because they’re racist homophobes is an offensive generalization.

Some older folks likely match his characterization – but many others voted for John McCain for his pledge to end earmarks, his foreign policy bona fides, or for hundreds of other legitimate reasons. Castigating them all as bigots is a perfect example of the small-minded reductionist politics that Mr. Moore blasts in his movies.


4. Nancy Pelosi’s Empty Threat

When Nancy Pelosi was asked whether former House colleague Newt Gingrich could become president, her tone became icy, responding, “That will never happen.”

When CNN Host John King asked why she was so sure, she offered a not-so-veiled threat: “There is something I know.” After Newt Gingrich responded by telling the press that she should come out with whatever she thinks she knows, Ms. Pelosi backtracked on her threat.

Her distasteful threat was tantamount to a childhood game of, “I have a secret and I’m not telling” – and it’s beneath her position as a former House Speaker.

3. The Marines Who Urinated on Dead People (And Their Defenders)

That four U.S. Marines urinated on dead Taliban insurgents (while laughing about giving them a “shower”) was bad enough. But the incident was made even worse when some conservatives suggested that it wasn’t a big deal. Former GOP hopeful Rick Perry said so, and CNN’s Dana Loesch went a step further, saying, ‘I’d urinate on dead Taliban too.”

No matter that Marine Gen. John Allen, the top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, said that, "These actions are in direct opposition to everything the military stands for.”

Or that Army Lt. Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, commander of the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command, said, "Defiling, desecrating, mocking, photographing or filming for personal use insurgent dead constitutes a grave breach of the LOAC (laws of armed conflict), violate basic standards of human decency and can cause serious damage to relations with the Afghan government."

2. Mitt Romney Likes Being Able to Fire People

Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney can’t help himself. If he’s not making $10,000 bets, telling people that he’s unemployed, boasting about putting his political opponents into debt, or bragging about living on the “real streets” of America, he’s threatening to fire people.

So it’s not so much that he uttered the words, “I like being able to fire people.” In fact, that sound bite alone is out-of-context. But it’s an oddly worded way of making his point (about being able to switch underperforming health care providers), and it’s little wonder that many people viewed it as revelatory, not accidental. You better believe his Democratic opponents can’t wait to use it against him.



1. One Mayor’s Pledge to Eat Tacos

When four police officers in East Haven, Connecticut were indicted on charges of beating Hispanic residents, a reporter asked the town’s mayor, Joseph Maturo, “What are you doing for the Latino community today?”

Mr. Maturo’s shocking response led to him being blasted by members of the community, the governor, and the media. 

I hope he was drunk when he gave this interview – at least that would give him an excuse. It’s only January, but his train wreck may end up as one of the worst media disasters of 2012. 


If you’re the captain of the Costa Concordia and you abandon ship after running aground in Italy, you might not want to come with an excuse so ludicrous as to dishonor the men and women who died on your ship. That didn’t seem to bother Francesco Schettino, who claimed that he didn’t want to leave the ship, but…

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    The Mr. Media Training Blog offers daily tips to help readers become better media spokespersons and public speakers. It also examines how well (or poorly) public figures are communicating through the media.

    Brad Phillips is the Founder and Managing Editor of the Mr. Media Training Blog. He is the president of Phillips Media Relations, a media and presentation training firm with offices in NYC and DC.

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    Before joining Phillips Media Relations in 2011, Christina worked as a journalist with NBC News, where she produced stories for MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews, NBC Nightly News, and The Today Show.

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