Category: Media Training Tips

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My Worst Media Interview Ever

A reader recently asked me: “What was the worst media interview you ever gave? What did you learn from it?”

Fortunately, I’ve never had an outright media disaster. But my mind immediately went to an interview I gave in 2010 about what scientists should expect from their interactions with the media.

The story that resulted from that interview was harmless. But my experience during the interview was bruising, and taught me several important lessons.


Ken Starr: Don’t Do Your Media Training During The Actual Interview!

I’ve written about hundreds of media disasters over the past decade, but I’ve never seen anything quite like this.

The subject of this interview is Ken Starr, whose work as independent counsel in the 1990s led to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton. In later years (and until this week) he was president and chancellor of Baylor University — where he was forced out due to his poor handling of rape allegations at his school.

I’ve rarely seen someone do their media training during an actual interview — but that’s essentially what happened here.


Classic Clip: When You’re The Wrong Guest On Live Television

What should you do when you show up for a job interview at a network, get confused for an expert who was booked as a television guest, and get thrust without warning onto the set for a live on-camera interview?

That’s the exact question that faced a job applicant named Guy Goma 10 years ago this month. His answer was to proceed with the interview as if he was the actual guest.

He looked panicked at first, but bluffed his way through rather impressively.


Here’s How Chris Matthews Forced A Donald Trump Abortion Error

Donald Trump earned condemnation from liberals and conservatives alike on Wednesday for stating that women who get abortions should receive “some form of punishment.”

Trump’s campaign quickly realized he had committed a major error and went into overdrive to correct it. During one cleanup interview, his spokesperson admitted, “This was a complete misspeak.”

Interviewer Chris Matthews used a specific technique to knock Trump off script — and our trainees fall victim to it often.


What It Feels Like To Freeze On National Television

Earlier this month, an Australian lecturer named Benjamin Habib of Melbourne’s Latrobe University appeared on live television to discuss North Korea’s recent rocket launch.

When the camera’s light came on, Habib froze—and despite the best effort of the anchors, he couldn’t get back on track.

What makes this interview interesting is what happened afterward. Dr. Habib wrote an essay for his blog, in which he described the humiliating experience and his battle with mental illness which, he says, contributed to his on-air performance.


Official Calls Reporter A “Bitch,” Resigns, Then Does It Again

Ron Buchanan, Nashville’s top election official, resigned on Monday after calling a reporter from WSMV-TV a “bitch”—while tape was rolling.

Buchanan was answering questions about his expenses, which included meals at upscale local restaurants and pricey office furnishings. He was doing a fine enough job of defending his expenses—but something got under his skin when the reporter asked him this question: “Could you have gone to another restaurant that was perhaps not as expensive?”

It’s not just that he called her that term. It’s that he did it again in his bitter resignation letter.


I’m Not Naming A Worst Video Media Disaster Of 2015. Here’s Why.

Since beginning this blog in 2010, I’ve named the worst video media disaster at the end of every year.

In 2010, the award went to British Petroleum CEO Tony Hayward. In 2011, Anthony Weiner nabbed the prize. In 2012, Senate candidate Todd Akin became notorious for his claim about rape. In 2013, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford earned it for making a vulgar comment. In 2014, LA Clippers Owner Donald Sterling received the prize for making racist comments.

But for the first time since starting the blog, I’ve decided against naming a worst video media disaster this year. Here’s why.


Save Your Indignation, Rahm. This One’s On You.

(December 2, 2015) Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was interviewed at a live event this morning by Politico reporter Mike Allen.

Mr. Emanuel—who is facing one the biggest crises of his political career over his handling of a high-profile police misconduct case—lashed out at Allen for asking a question he didn’t like.

But the question wasn’t exactly a hard-hitting one. It was about his winter vacation plans. Watch the angry exchange that followed.

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