Is This Man’s Tie An Unnecessary Distraction?

Written by Christina Mozaffari (@PMRChristina) on March 14, 2014 – 11:40 PM

Editor’s Note: This post, related to the missing Malaysia Airlines flight, is meant only to address what we can learn from one of the commentators involved in the coverage. For more about the crisis management aspect of this story, this article and this article are good places to start.

I’m hardly a fashionista. In fact, with a 16-month-old daughter and a second child on the way, I consider a non-work day in which I manage to wear clean jeans a victory.

That said, I am a media trainer, and part of teaching people about presenting themselves in interviews, panel discussions, and speeches is how to, well, present themselves.

In general, when trainees ask me what they should wear to an interview, I tell them they should always look clean-cut, of course, but to also think about the person they’re trying to reach and the situation. For example, it can be off-putting and out-of-touch to see an emergency official at a disaster scene in a suit and tie. Conversely, it would be strange to see a Wall Street executive appear on TV in a wrinkled t-shirt.

Take Greg Feith, for example, the former NTSB investigator who has been the go-to guest for NBC and MSNBC’s coverage of the missing Malaysia Airlines plane.

Greg Feith Tie

His insight into this tragic and disturbing story is incredibly valuable. His experience is relevant, and I’ve found what he’s been saying to be well thought-out and responsible given the all the unanswered questions in this story.

The problem is, I have to close my eyes when he speaks to hear a word he’s saying.

He wears a suit on-air, but his loud, outdated, and busily-patterned ties are a huge distraction from the important information he’s trying to communicate.

Greg Feith Tie 2

This isn’t to say you have to wear brand-new, high-fashion clothes for your television interviews. In fact, for some, a funky tie or a signature piece of jewelry is part of their charm. I once interviewed a gentleman who ran the school bus service in a California town. His tie had – you guessed it – a school bus print on it. That tie reflected his character and was appropriate for the story.

However, in this situation, with 239 passengers and crew members likely dead, muted garb is the rule. His bright tie doesn’t reflect the gravity of this story and introduces an unnecessary distraction to his otherwise solid appearances.

What do you think? Do Mr. Feith’s colorful ties distract from his content? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Christina Mozaffari tweets at @PMRChristina.

 

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Comments (58)

  1. By Bonnie:

    NO, I love his ties!

  2. By Neil kenemer:

    Love the tie. Would like to know if u know who makes the tie and where I can order one? Think it adds to feiths image and I listen more intently than I would normally listen. Not a distraction at all.

  3. By helen:

    Hate the ties, and they do distract from the message.

  4. By deborah:

    Just awful, these ties. One more ugly and distracting than the last. And I have a tendency to take him less seriously…they seem like the person wearing them would have to be vain and vacuous.

  5. By Steve:

    We are talking about it, therefore, it’s a distraction.

  6. By Shirley:

    Love the ties! Where can I purchase?

  7. By Vi Ward:

    I just love Greg’s neck ties. I wish I could get in touch with him to ask him if he would donate any of his ties to me……every man has some in his closet that they don’t want any more. You see, I make quilts and have started collecting men’s neck ties for this. Greg’s beautiful brightly colored ties would give the quilt great sparkle. Christina…..if you can get this comment to him I would be so greatful.

    Vi Ward Cascade, Id 83611

  8. By Art Aiello:

    I don’t know if they’re a distraction so much as being inappropriate for the subject matter, as you pointed out. I see this as a vanity play. I’m reminded of a blog post I once read about the film “Morning Glory” in which Harrison Ford played a news anchor. The post was about his loud socks, and the blogger mentioned that such fashions are not uncommon among actual news anchors, because they’re another way for the anchor to say, “Look at me, I’m important!” I wonder if Greg Feith isn’t suffering from the same need to draw attention to himself, despite being interviewed as a subject matter expert on major news outlets.

  9. By mike fomil:

    It’s a fucking tie. Don’t you have anything better to talk about?

  10. By Kevin:

    Feith is one of the premiere air incident experts in the world, he doesn’t need ridonkulous ties to draw attention to himself. He makes frequent appearances on television documentary series like Mayday and Air Craft Investigation wearing the same ties, so he’s either totally oblivious to style (my bet as some of his suits have lapels that would make the disco era jealous) or goofy ties are this thing.

    In the case of an expert contributor to a news outlet, does it even really matter? He’s not there to sell anything the way a CEO or spokesperson would be, he’s there purely to inform. It’d be nice if he could make it to at least the late 2000s and get a Trump tie or something, but other than a chuckle I think we’ve given this enough attention.

  11. By Brad Phillips:

    Mike,

    Such language! Let’s not let the comments section here devolve into that of far too many other websites, okay?

    Now, onto your point. Based on the traffic this story has generated off of Google searches, it’s clear that his ties are generating a lot of attention. Every time he appears on NBC Nightly News or The Today Show, hundreds of people are hitting this story. And that means that instead of listening to his commentary, many people are focusing on the wrong thing – his attire. That, as you must know, is a germane topic for a media training website to focus on.

    When Christina approached me to write this story, I had already noticed Feith’s ties and had the same thought she did. The fact that the two of us had the same reaction independently tells me that we’re on to something here.

    Brad

  12. By Brad Phillips:

    Kevin,

    I’d argue that it matters if (at least some) people aren’t focusing on his words as much as they are his outfit. Any break from the accepted norm of attire will be noticed — and I’m not sure why his attire should be a focal point when his content is so strong.

    Best,
    Brad

  13. By Don Oyer:

    I am an avid watcher of MSNBC so I have seen him on quite a few times and have noticed these ties. They all seem to be from the same designer. Possibly a relative or friend. It does lend to a chuckle for sure. It must be someone he knows to have so many of these. Too Funny!!

  14. By Catherine Schmitt:

    I can’t say for sure where he gets his ties but if you like them, check out http://pangbornties.net. Pangborn is from Detroit and Detroit can use your business.
    16

  15. By Rusty:

    I really like the ties. It’s the first thing I notice.

  16. By David:

    Great ties I love them all. where can I get one?

  17. By Darla Jones:

    What’s distracting is that this guy is a smoking hottie.

  18. By Tim:

    I Googled this subject and found your posting because I cannot BELIEVE the ties this guy wears. They are a distraction. I cannot hear a word he’s saying. I can only think of how hideously and hilariously ugly his ties are. WHAT IS HE THINKING?!? And where in the world would one buy a tie like that? That’s one place I’ll never shop!

  19. By Brian:

    I do love the ties. However, I agree they are inappropriate. As a former clothes horse, I had the right outfit for every occasion. This guy needs to learn that valuable lesson. The man should make the clothes. Never should the clothes make the man. The latter leads to failure in the long run of business.

  20. By Rex:

    I agree with the Author. You wear a tie for the occasion. Not for the suit. It appears that this man is trying to get attention very badly. Occasion is somber & sad. Not Jovial. How says he is the “world best” aviation crash investigator. Are you kidding me? Just because he came on a US TV show?. Search “silkair” on Ytube. This guys is ridiculous. All this theories of “Suicidal pilot” have been proven wrong. These kind of people you not be on TV

  21. By George Hofer:

    I agree with both sides of opinion. That said, being a haberdasher myself, can’t someone just get the name of the designer of the ties and the source for obtaining them, so that the 50% of us who absolutely think they are fabulous, can order about 20 of them @ $ 150.00 each !!!!

  22. By George Hofer:

    I concur with both sides of the “opinion” issue, however can’t someone just simply find out the designer and the source to obtain these ties so that the 50%, like this haberdasher in Washington state, who think the ties are absolutely fabulous, can order 20 of them @ $ 150.00 each. An old fashion rule: once good, always good !!!

  23. By thomas long:

    I think the ties are great! Mens suits are normally boring solid colors, so his ties make the suits look crisp and great looking. He certainly is a well informed person in the field ov aviation.

  24. By Jesse:

    I’ve known Greg for a while, and he often gets pulled into these interviews on short notice. I don’t think he worries a lot about what tie is available. I’ll ask if he has some extras for Vi in Idaho.

  25. By Gloria W.:

    Greg’s ties are fabulous! I actually have the ability to admire his tie while listening to every word he has to say. I just find it hard to believe that no one has created a Facebook page totally commited to Greg’s ties.

  26. By Donna:

    I absolutely love his ties!!!! He is so well put together. Is he married???

  27. By Brad Phillips:

    Donna,

    I don’t know if he’s married. This is a media training website, not a dating website! But good luck. :)

    Brad

  28. By Couldn't agree more:

    My wife and I can’t stand his ties, they are the worst!!!! So bizarre

    Every time he is on, we now yell out “Feith nailed it again!”

  29. By Chris:

    Unless something has changed, Greg is married to a Denver news anchor.

    Anyway, I think this is the only time I have ever disagreed with you Brad. I have been an aviation geek most of my life and have always appreciated the style and knowledge of Greg Feith. Having grown up listening to his expertise and watching his frequent interviews following aviation disasters, I always admired his polished look. The ties became somewhat of a trademark in my opinion.

    They aren’t distracting to me, but then again I am biased because I have always looked up to him.

  30. By Sally:

    While the tie is beautiful and worthy to be worn, it is a distraction and inappropriate to the topic at hand. I’m not a fashionista either, but since my hair is usually pulled back I’ve decided I should probably wear some type of earring to at least give the impression I have some fashion sense. Going without jewelry, even for women in technical fields like Information Services, seems to be like a man in a suit without a tie.

  31. By CTPJ:

    I didn’t notice the ties before (though I think they are wonderful) – I was too distracted by the dyed blonde hair (he looked better with grey) and the apparent botox he’s had……. That said, the man is very bright, knowledgeable and well respected in his field.

  32. By Ian:

    because somebody had to do it http://gregfeithties.tumblr.com/

  33. By Reese:

    His ties are so ugly it prompted me to Google “Feith Ugly Ties” and find this web page. He is a distraction from the story being reported on.

  34. By Jim Paterson:

    This guy knows his stuff and most people are compelled to listen to experience talking and not thinking about his tie. ” Don’t judge the book by its cover “

  35. By Carol Mahler:

    I think his ties can be viewed either way. I do not think, however, that they take away from the fact that he is a serious and knowledgeable aviation expert. His reports are well thought out, well communicated, factual and informative. He has spoken with much compassion for the families on the missing jet and his attitude is one of respect and sincerity. Aren’t all those things what really counts?

  36. By Tom nataro:

    Everyone jealous of a sharp dressed man.want to order all of them

  37. By Rex:

    Greg Feith is just a TV showman. He has no knowledge how to find the plane. That is the most urgent thing now. Any crash investigator ( does not have to be on TV) could use software to track the route once you have the black box. I have no idea why NBC/MSNBC get this guy to be their expert at this stage. people have lots of questions about the route of the plane & the debris field if it crashed. I saw several NBC segments. This guy just talking about thing like how NTSB handle personal items from the crash site, how to clean the black box, how to safe guard any wreckage etc. Who cares at this point. if you can not contribute anything as to how we could find the plane just stay awake till your turn comes up

  38. By Ronn Harris:

    The ties are hand made in Bologna, Italy by Vitaliano Pancaldi and are available in the best Men’s stores throughout the US, and through websites such as DeSantis Collection. They are highly collectible and the ones from previous seasons are sold frequently on Ebay. They represent a small portion of the Pancaldi collection, which can be seen at http://www.vitalianopancaldi.com

  39. By Andrew P:

    Put me in the “ugliest ties ever” camp — at least, that’s the Google search that got me to this page. But, as others have said, that’s not the real problem. It’s that the ties are making a statement that doesn’t need to be made and is distracting. In many cases, he wears them with suits that don’t seem to complement the colors in the tie (or vice versa). Combine with dyed hair and a hair style that would have seemed very natural in the 80s, and it’s just not a good look. On the other hand, I love Brian Williams’ classic, somewhat boring ties. Brian lets his words to the talking, not his ties.

  40. By marcy shykula:

    His white shirts couldn’t be any whiter — all the more for those ties to stand out on!
    That’s his style. I adore Brian Williams’ ties, too — and they couldn’t be any more
    different .

  41. By R Purcell:

    I love his ties and check them out every time I see him on TV. They look expensive, look like silk. Silk ties make great Easter egg dyes and I would love to try one of his. He dresses the way HE wants to look, not the way the fashion slaves want him to look. Good for him.

  42. By Chris M.:

    Every time we see him, the ties just about make us gag. If I’m not in the room my hubs will call out “it’s the ugly tie guy again”! Totally inappropriate for any serious news person.

  43. By Peter:

    No matter what you think about Mr. Feith’s ties, they might be appropriate when he is being interviewed about a POSITIVE aviation story. But wearing them when he is being interviewed about an aviation disaster is not appropriate. His whimsical ties are disrespectful of the missing, the injured, and the dead, as well as their families.

  44. By connie vanpatten:

    I think he is quite the expert and has a way of explaining very complex information to the viewer who has limited knowledge . While I dislike most of his ties , I do not find them to be distracting. I was shocked however when he was interviewed wearing a pair of ridiculous suspenders that were black with belt buckles. They just looked too weird and that certainly was a distraction. I don’t like the blond hair either.Grey looked fine, brown might work but not blond. Overall, I do not believe anything could truly distract from his wonderful presentations.

  45. By Jennifer:

    Actually, I LOVE his ties! So bright and colorful compared to the usual dull & boring. To me, they evoke a wonderful sense of life of a man who is not restricted to the dictates of mindless conformity. More men out there should be brave enough to assault the commonplace! You go Greg! Damn the mundane and the haters!

  46. By Scott:

    I firmly believe that Greg Feith is able to get a pass on wearing the tie. Your points are well articulated and would be absolutely correct 99 percent of the time. However, somehow, someway, and contrary to “fashion rules” for situations like these, Greg is able to wear these ties with success. As an amateur aviation buff, I’ve seen Greg Feith wearing colorful and loud items of clothing in episodes of Air Crash Investigation. He’s been doing this for years and years. He’s the exception to “the rule”.

  47. By Marie Slaney:

    I love his ties. My husband has a similar tie created by Gerry Garcia of the Greatful Dead. I wonder where Greg get his ties?

  48. By CGray:

    Have admired his NTSB reporting since the early ’90’s.His aeronautical skills and experience are superb.Being handsome also provokes envious focus on meaningless critiques by those less knowledgable of air tragedies. ✈️

  49. By Nancy:

    The ties pale as a distraction compared to his handsome face. Forget the tie; Listen to this great guy!

  50. By Beverley:

    Nice tie’s, but Greg is the distraction. His knowledge in aviation, NTSB, just keep you interested and listening to what he has to say about the topic. Surely he is a very good looking man, that’s somewhat a distraction.

  51. By paula smith:

    Love the ties. I believe man should express himself and what better way than his choice of clothing and ties. I do not believe they distract from any story he is reporting on. I am really amazed of the negative comments. Definitely a plus

  52. By Jennifer Eve:

    I was the main news anchor at the ABC affiliate in Oklahoma City during the time of the Federal Building bombing. People were suffering. I felt it was important to honor those who were waiting for answers. My appearance was a part of my job, and I didn’t want to wear anything that would be a distraction from the tragedy unfolding before us. His ties are an absolute distraction. They are insensitive. It seems he is mostly interested in marketing himself. I cannot speak to his authority on aviation matters, but if I am a family member/friend/colleague/human being who was waiting on word on the Malaysian Air flight, it would be an unwelcome visual assault.
    *
    + two

  53. By Andy:

    He works a job where he is constantly discussing / seeing and investigating horrible tragedies. Im guessing this stress can really wear a person down over the years and make him really depressed. The people that do this kind of work have all developed some sort of coping mechanism to keep them from having a nervous breakdown, some thing to lighten the mood for themselves and those they work with day in and day out. This is probably gregs way of doing that. You gotta be some kind of self righteous schmuck to try do dictate to him the right and wrong way to cope with this stressful environment that he is in. Distracted by the tie? Stare at the floor while he speaks !

  54. By l s:

    I never noticed his ties (on Why Planes Crash) until I read this website.

  55. By Venna Winters:

    I have never been distracted by the ties. Im focus on what he is saying, hanging on to his every word. I learn from his delivery. He is intelligent and fine.

  56. By Ranell:

    What a ridiculous statement to make. He provides educated and well presented information that all (and those of us that are into aviation) can learn about, regardless of what type of aircraft is the subject of discussion. Would you complain and say it’s “blah” or “drab” if his choice of tie blended in with his suitjacket? Absurd.

  57. By Nikki:

    Seriously?! Are you that bored to be making an unsignificant statement like that? Greg feith is one of the most brilliant aviation expert. Focus on the knowledge he is providing instead of paying attention to stupid details like that. P. s. love his tie!

  58. By Brad Phillips:

    Hi Nikki,

    You found this post because you were searching for information about Greg Feith’s tie. Which means you noticed it. Which probably means you were paying less attention to what he was saying than you would have if he had been wearing an ordinary tie. The point makes itself.

    Have a great day,
    Brad

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