August 2012: The Five Worst Video Media Disasters

Written by Brad Phillips @MrMediaTraining on August 31, 2012 – 12:37 am

Kiss my ass!

They’ll put you back in chains!

Legitimate rape!

Those loaded statements can only mean one thing: It’s time for this month’s worst media disasters list. And folks, this month was a doozy.

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

5. Yahoo News Editor Gets Caught on a Hot Mic

Yahoo News’ Washington Bureau Chief, David Chalian, was caught on a hot microphone earlier this week for expressing a rather ugly view of Mitt Romney.

Speaking about Romney’s decision to proceed with the Republican National Convention in light of Hurricane Isaac making landfall, Chalian said: “They are happy to have a party with black people drowning.”

Yahoo fired him immediately afterwards.



4. Romney Spokesperson Tells Reporters to “Kiss My Ass”

Mitt Romney’s overseas trip was a bit of a disaster. But the most comical moment occurred toward the end of his trip when his traveling press secretary, Rick Gorka, snapped at the press corps.

I’ll admit it: The reporters in this video were acting boorishly. It’s not that they didn’t have a right to shout questions – in fact, Mitt Romney’s refusal to answer their questions throughout the trip necessitated it. But their superficial questions about gaffes made them look bad.

Unfortunately, Mr. Gorka took the bait:

In what has to be one of the most unintentionally contradictory statements of the year, Gorka scolded the press by saying, “Kiss my ass. This is a holy site for the Polish people. Show some respect.”

He was quickly sidelined by the campaign.


3. Vice President Biden Tells Crowd Republicans Will Put Them “Back In Chains”

When speaking to the Institute for Advanced Learning and Research in Danville, Va. earlier this month, Joe Biden used an unfortunate choice of words that instantly triggered accusations of racism.

He told the crowd, in which many African Americans were present:

“Romney wants to let the — he said in the first hundred days, he’s going to let the big banks once again write their own rules, unchain Wall Street. They’re going to put you all back in chains.”


Biden denied that his comments had any racial context, but it doesn’t matter. Politicians should have learned to avoid such rhetorical traps from Ross Perot’s infamous 1992 “you people” remark.


2. Clint Eastwood Hijacks Mitt Romney’s Big Night

Last night, Mitt Romney accepted his party’s nomination to become the Republican candidate for President. He proceeded to deliver one of the best speeches of his political life. Unfortunately, actor Clint Eastwood – who took the stage minutes before him – stole many of the headlines Romney had earned.

Eastwood took the stage, accompanied by a bar stool. For 11 painful minutes, Eastwood proceeded to address the bar stool, as if it was President Obama. It was off-message, bizarre, and embarrassing – and the news media spent precious minutes gossiping about Eastwood instead of Romney.

This one has to be seen to be believed.


1. Senate Candidate Offers Strange View of “Legitimate Rape”

In this era of endless partisan squabbling, it’s refreshing to see true bipartisanship in action. For a few days earlier this month, one politician brought opposite sides together – Republicans including Mitt Romney, Karl Rove, and Sean Hannity were all in rare agreement with Democrats such as President Obama, David Axelrod, and Rachel Maddow.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t the kind of bipartisanship that Republican Missouri Senate candidate Todd Akin was going for. His controversial (and scientifically incorrect) assertions about rape caused a firestorm, with most prominent members of his own party begging him to quit the race:

“From what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”


Despite the mounting pressure, he’s still in the race. For now.


Bonus Video 1: Ryan Lochte Is a Great Swimmer, But…

Olympic champion Ryan Lochte is a great swimmer. But judging from his media interviews, he’s not likely to get signed on as a network commentator any time soon.


Bonus Video 2: The Next President of The United States?

While announcing Paul Ryan as his running mate, Mitt Romney inadvertently called him “The next President of the United States.”

Although this was a gaffe, it was also emblematic of a larger point: Small media mistakes, when handled gracefully, can actually enhance the reputation of the person who commits it. I found this to be one of the most human moments of Romney’s entire campaign, and enjoyed seeing him display his unguarded sense of humor. He should allow the public to see more of this appealing side of his personality.

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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.

    Brad Phillips

    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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