June 2013: The Two Worst Video Media Disasters

Written by Brad Phillips @MrMediaTraining on June 29, 2013 – 10:44 pm

National security vs. butter. Lies vs. racism. Self-soothing vs. hysterical crying.

This month’s two worst video media disasters couldn’t be more different from one another. One is arguably much more consequential than the other. But both (at least partially) destroyed the credibility of these two well-known public figures.

Without any further ado, here are the two worst video media disasters of June 2013!

Oops Sign


Disaster One: U.S. Director of National Intelligence Defends His “Truthiness”

Back in March, a congressman asked U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper if the National Security Agency (NSA) gathers “any type of data at all on millions of Americans.”

Clapper said “no.” But watch his body language when he said that. While answering the question, he repeatedly rubbed his forehead, often regarded as a self-soothing behavior.

When caught in a lie after Edward Snowden leaked information this month that confirmed the U.S. did gather data on millions of Americans, Mr. Clapper offered an extraordinary excuse:

“I responded in what I thought was the most truthful, or least untruthful, manner by saying ‘no’.”

Got that, kids? Next time you’re caught in a lie, just tell your parents that you were answering in the “least untruthful manner” possible.


Disaster Two: Celebrity Chef Paula Deen Cooks Her Brand

In a deposition released this month, celebrity chef Paula Deen admitted using racial language and longing to plan a Civil War-era wedding complete with an all-black serving staff.

The inevitable backlash forced her to respond. First, her staff released a statement noting that Ms. Deen was raised in the south during a different era. Unsurprisingly, that landed with a thud. Ms. Deen then released three videos—none of them good—and canceled a scheduled appearance on The Today Show.

(Click here to see her videos and read four reasons why they failed.)

Paula Deen

Finally, Ms. Deen rescheduled her Today Show interview—after she had already been fired from The Food Network—and proceeded to give a jaw-dropping answer to a direct question:

Matt Lauer: “Do you have any doubt that African Americans are offended by the ‘n’ word?”

Paula Deen: “I don’t know.”

With that answer, Ms. Deen confirmed what a lot of people already suspected: that she just didn’t get it. Many of her sponsors reached the same conclusion, costing her millions – or tens of millions – of dollars. 

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  • About Mr. Media Training

    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 founding Phillips Media Relations in 2004, Brad worked as a journalist with ABC's Nightline with Ted Koppel and CNN's Reliable Sources and The Capital Gang.

    Brad tweets at @MrMediaTraining.

    Christina Mozaffari is the Senior Writer for the Mr. Media Training Blog. She is the Washington, D.C. vice president for Phillips Media Relations.

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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.

    Christina tweets at @PMRChristina.

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