June 2015: The Worst Video Media Disaster

Written by Brad Phillips @MrMediaTraining on June 30, 2015 – 11:14 am

Joe Biden’s oldest son, Beau, died of brain cancer on May 30. It was the latest blow in a life of tragedies for the vice president, whose first wife and one-year-old daughter were killed in a car accident in 1972. 

In response to the news, politicians on the opposite side of the aisle suspended partisan attacks on Biden and expressed their sorrow. It was heartening to watch as political rivals put their humanity above their politics. 

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX)—a presidential candidate and longtime critic of Mr. Biden’s—struck the perfect tone with a beautifully crafted statement, which he released on his website three days after Beau’s death.Ted Cruz Biden Statement

If Mr. Cruz meant those words, his sentiment was short lived. At a GOP dinner the following day, Cruz decided to take a swipe at Biden and use him as a cheap punch line.

“You know the nice thing? You don’t need a punch line. I promise you, it works. The next party you’re at, just walk up to someone and say, ‘Vice President Joe Biden,’ and just close your mouth. They will crack up laughing.”

While Cruz was gleefully mocking his political opponent, Mr. Biden was preparing to bury his son. Contrast Mr. Cruz’s words with this agonizing photo of a grieving father, taken at Beau’s viewing a few days later.

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Political attacks are nothing new. Candidates of both parties engage in them. And Cruz’s attack is consistent with the fact that some politicians are particularly juicy targets. Former vice presidents (or VP candidates) Al Gore, Sarah Palin, Joe Biden, and Dick Cheney all come to mind as occasional political punch lines; a simple mention of their names, uttered at the right time to the right audience, is almost certain to draw groans or laughs.

But regardless of which party you support or what ideological beliefs you hold, some things should be sacred in American public life. One of them is that politicians should place a moratorium on personal attacks during a time of profound personal grief.

That I have to write such a thing seems absurd—it’s a truth so obvious it shouldn’t have to be stated—and yet, some public figures clearly need to be reminded of it. And that Ted Cruz—a father of two young daughters—needs to be reminded of this makes him this month’s worst video media disaster.

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Why Being Witty Can Kill Your Presentations

Written by Brad Phillips @MrMediaTraining on February 25, 2015 – 4:59 am

In the mid-1990s, my cousin invited me to join her for a bar crawl in Washington, DC. At some point during the day, we swung by an apartment in Dupont Circle to pick up one of her friends.

When we entered her friend’s basement apartment, I noticed a flier on a coffee table supporting Joe Biden’s 1996 Senate reelection campaign. Biden, you may remember, dropped out of the presidential race in 1988 after being accused of plagiarizing a speech—so I turned to my cousin and jokingly said, “I wonder if he plagiarized that flier?”

“Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!” she said, a look of horror crossing her face. “This is his son’s apartment!”

Joe Biden 1988

It’s been many years, so I don’t know which Biden son lived there (we were there to pick up one of his roommates). I also don’t know if he ever heard the comment—to the best of my memory, I never saw him, so I don’t even know if he was home at the time.

But that moment, which my cousin still needles me about, is etched in my memory and serves as a regular caution for me about the dangers of ad libbing.

Still, I like topical quips—so that moment aside, I remain prone to occasionally making a comment about someone in the news. Last week, for example, I delivered a presentation to a group of 40 communications professionals in Washington. As I was setting up a story, I was on the cusp of saying something along the lines of, “This is a real story, not a Brian Williams one.”

Brian Williams

I hit the brakes right before saying it and held myself back. I realized that I had no idea who was in that audience. For all I knew, one of Brian Williams’s relatives, former colleagues, or friends could have been in the audience—and if that was the case, my witty aside could have made that person (and everyone else in the room aware of that relationship) uncomfortable.

Certainly, I could have referenced the Williams case if it was in context and if the analysis served a relevant point. But just for the sake of demonstrating my wit? It wasn’t worth the risk.

I often talk about the need to remain spontaneous and “in the moment” during presentations. But there are a lot of other, less risky ways to exhibit humor. Therefore, unless I know my audience well, I’m going to try hard to leave the irrelevant quips behind.

Note: The Biden story above is true to the best of my and my cousin’s recollection—we both remember that incident similarly. I tried to corroborate it by searching for where the Biden sons lived in 1996, but was unable to find verifying information.

Want to learn more about public speaking? Check out our recommended reading list!

 


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If You Commit Gaffes, Do You Get A Pass To Commit More?

Written by Brad Phillips @MrMediaTraining on September 18, 2014 – 9:04 pm

Nathan Gonzales, an old friend and colleague who serves as the Deputy Editor of the well-regarded Rothenberg Political Report, recently sent me an interesting theory: 

“Here is a working hypothesis for politicians: The more stupid things you say, the more leeway you are allowed. Basically, if you have a reputation for being a straight talker or saying politically incorrect things, then you are allowed to say politically incorrect things.” 

He included two examples—Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), whose recent remarks to an Asian Chamber of Commerce in Las Vegas generated some unflattering headlines—and Vice President Joe Biden, who Nathan calls “probably the best example of this.” 

Although Nathan sent me his theory a few weeks ago, Biden helped validate it on Tuesday by committing yet another of his infamous gaffes.

Joe Biden Gaffe

According to Yahoo News:

“Vice President Joe Biden drew fire from a prominent Jewish group on Tuesday after he described unscrupulous bankers who prey on servicemen and servicewomen deployed overseas as ‘Shylocks’ — a term frequently condemned as an anti-Semitic caricature.

‘Shylock represents the medieval stereotype about Jews and remains an offensive characterization to this day. The Vice President should have been more careful,’ Anti-Defamation League National Director Abraham Foxman said.”

Biden compounded his error by also referring to Asia as “The Orient” earlier this week which, as ABC News noted, “is considered widely outdated and could be perceived as offensive, or insensitive, especially when used in reference to people.”

It’s not just Harry Reid and Joe Biden, of course—examples on the political right include flamethrowers like these two Texas congressmen: Rep. Louie Gohmert (sample quote: “[The Obama] administration has so many Muslim Brotherhood members that have influence that they just are making wrong decisions for America.”) and Rep. Steve Stockman (sample quote: “If babies had guns, they wouldn’t be aborted.”).

Steve Stockman Tweet

Nathan is onto something. These politicians—all of whom commit gaffes and/or say outrageous things with some regularity—seem to at least partially inoculate themselves from future criticism for subsequent gaffes since they’ve already created an expectation of committing such gaffes. (For example, many people are likely to greet a Biden gaffe at this point with a shoulder shrug and a half-hearted “Ah, that’s just Biden.”)

To stick with Biden-as-case-study, I suspect many people like his style (he’s a straight-shooter who doesn’t spin me) while others view him as thoroughly undisciplined. Most people have already chosen their side by this point, meaning Biden’s gaffes are already baked into his approval rating, as are those of the other politicians mentioned in this post, and many others who aren’t.

Would I recommend this “gaffe inoculation” as a purposeful strategy? No. Few people can make it work for themselves long term without their gaffes and outrageousness backfiring on them. But does it work for many public officials? The answer, for better or worse, appears to be yes.

What do you think? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

 


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The Ten Worst Video Media Disasters Of 2012

Written by Brad Phillips @MrMediaTraining on December 13, 2012 – 6:02 am

2012 was an election year, so it’s no surprise that politicians consistently committed the types of gaffes that took their campaigns far off message.

This year, we heard about the “47 percent,” “tacos,” and “chains.” But it wasn’t just politicians in trouble–an executive, a football coach, and three broadcast personalities also made the list.

Without further ado, here are the ten worst video media disasters of 2012!

Honorable Mention: Kathie Lee Gifford: How’s Your Dead Wife?

In May, Today Show host Kathie Lee Gifford committed an embarrassing gaffe when she asked comic Martin Short how his wife was doing. The problem? Mr. Short’s wife, Nancy, died two years ago. It’s not that she made a mistake. It’s that her question, asked in that typically “insider” show business way, suggested a much more intimate friendship with the Shorts than she clearly had.

 

10. Joe Biden: “Republicans Will Put You Back in Chains.”

When speaking in August, Vice President 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 all politicians should have learned to avoid such rhetorical traps from Ross Perot’s infamous 1992 “you people” remark.

 

9. 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—“I might have tacos when I go home”—led to him being blasted by members of the community, the governor, and the media. The rest of the interview wasn’t much better. This may only rank ninth on the year-end list, but it’s my personal favorite of the year.

 

8. Democratic Consultant: Ann Romney “Never Worked”

Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen caused a stir during a CNN interview in April when she said that Ann Romney “has never worked a day in her life.” Many women were offended at Ms. Rosen’s assertion, especially given that Ms. Romney was a stay-at-home mother who raised five boys.

Rosen’s comment, which helped Republicans neutralize the “war on women,” quickly drew condemnation from within her own party. Within days, President & Mrs. Obama, Vice President Biden, White House Spokesman Jay Carney, and Campaign Communications Director David Axelrod all condemned her remark. 

 

7. Football Coach Offers Cash for Injuring Opponent

In a remarkably violent and vulgar audio tape released in April, former New Orleans Saints Defensive Coordinator Gregg Williams was caught offering players money to injure members of the opposing team before a 2012 divisional playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers. About one player, he said:

“We’ve got to do everything in the world to make sure we kill Frank Gore’s head…we want his head sideways.” About another player, he said, “we fuckin’ take out that outside ACL.”

Mr. Williams’ disgusting rant earned him an indefinite suspension from the NFL. May he never spend another moment on a professional, college, high school, or youth football field.

 

6. Clint Eastwood Hijacks Mitt Romney’s Big Night

On the final night of the Republican National Convention, Mitt Romney accepted his party’s nomination to become the Republican presidential candidate. He proceeded to deliver a fine speech. 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 addressed the bar stool as if it was President Obama. It was off message, bizarre, and embarrassing–and the news media spent precious minutes discussing Eastwood afterward instead of Romney.

 

5. Rush Limbaugh Calls Student a “Slut”

Bombastic right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh isn’t known for mincing words – but his vicious attack on Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke was extreme even by his own loose standards. 

Ms. Fluke testified before a Democratic House panel that Georgetown–a Jesuit university–should be required to provide contraceptive care as part of its health insurance plan. Mr. Limbaugh responded by asking if she was a “slut” or “prostitute” who is “having so much sex, it’s amazing she can still walk.”

He didn’t seem to understand that the cost of a woman’s contraceptive care doesn’t correlate directly to the amount of sex she’s having; nor did he factor in the many health reasons women use contraception. But his advertisers understood, and they fled his show in record numbers.

 

4. Susan G. Komen Founder Blows Crisis Response

Susan G. Komen founder Nancy Brinker appeared on MSNBC after her organization cut off funding to Planned Parenthood, allegedly because Planned Parenthood provides abortion services. The resulting crisis was a disaster for Komen that threatened to destroy in a matter of days the favorable reputation it had built over decades. 

Ms. Brinker bombed the interview, during which she claimed that “the responses we’re getting are favorable,” seemingly oblivious to the firestorm around her. She edgily blamed her critics for not “bothering” to read more about their decision and failed to express any reassurance to her supporters who felt betrayed by the decision.

The group’s fundraising took a major hit, with fewer women participating in Komen’s annual races. In Washington, DC, 40,000 women raced in 2011; only 26,000 did in 2012. Similar drops were reported in several other U.S. cities.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

 

3. The First Debate and the Other Barack Obama Gaffes

From “The private sector is doing fine” to “If you have a business, you didn’t build that,” President Obama offered his opponents plenty of fodder for negative attack ads.

But it was Mr. Obama’s shockingly lackluster performance in the first presidential debate that may have been the biggest surprise, leading to an immediate decline in his poll numbers and a collective freak out by his Democratic supporters, who wondered how badly he really wanted a second term.

During the debate, Mr. Obama responded to Mitt Romney’s attacks without any discernible passion, instead making meandering points full of “uhhhs.” The video below is an edited compilation of some of Mr. Obama’s more than 200 “uhhhs.” It’s emblematic of how hesitant and unfocused he was throughout the debate.

 

2. The “47 Percent” and the Other Mitt Romney Gaffes

Whether saying “I like being able to fire people,” criticizing London about its Olympics preparation during a trip to the U.K., or boasting about his wife’s two Cadillacs, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney couldn’t get out of his own way all year. But it was his comment about the “47 percent” that may have sealed his fate:

“There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it….My job is not to worry about those people.”

The video was a disaster for Mr. Romney’s campaign, taking them far off their desired messages just two months before Election Day.

 

1. Todd Akin’s “Legitimate Rape”

Missouri’s Republican Senate candidate, Todd Akin, caused an uproar when he used the phrase “legitimate rape” during an August television interview.

But it was what he said immediately afterward that was both scientifically false and terrifyingly ignorant. Speaking about the possibility of a woman getting pregnant after being raped, he said:

“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.”

Akin’s comment served as a perfect example for Democrats pushing the theme of a Republican “war on women.” Republicans, aware of the damage Akin’s comment would have on the rest of the party, quickly begged him to quit the race. He refused. And Democratic incumbent Clare McCaskill beat him by a whopping 15 points in a race that favored the Republican challenger in many early polls. 

Although Akin wasn’t alone in these types of comments–Indiana’s Richard Mourdock and Joe Walsh swam in similar waters–his was the most high-profile.

Don’t commit your own media disaster! Learn how to remain on message by reading my new book, The Media Training Bible: 101 Things You Absolutely, Positively Need to Know Before Your Next Interview. Click here to learn more.

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Joe Biden vs. Paul Ryan Debate Scorecard: Oct 11, 2012

Written by Brad Phillips @MrMediaTraining on October 11, 2012 – 11:42 pm

During tonight’s vice presidential debate, Vice President Biden repeatedly laughed at inappropriate moments. He continually interrupted both his opponent and the moderator. He looked a little too angry for his own good at certain moments. His tone vacillated wildly.

And he won the debate.

If Mr. Biden’s job in this debate was to staunch the bleeding caused by President Obama’s phoned-in performance at last week’s presidential debate, he succeeded. In contrast, Congressman Ryan—who was more consistent in tone throughout the debate—too often appeared rehearsed, flat, and junior.

I suspect many readers will disagree with my conclusion. And they have some reasonable ammunition with which to disagree.

Dissenting readers will likely point to Mr. Biden’s demeanor. And they’d be right that four different Bidens showed up for the debate. First, the Biden who smiled and laughed at forced and inopportune moments; second, the Biden who repeatedly interrupted; third, the Biden who became heated and angry; and fourth, the Biden who was quiet and reflective.

Watching Biden’s performance was a bit like watching Showtime’s “United States of Tara.”

Despite all of that, Mr. Biden was simply more effective at controlling the debate, challenging his opponent’s premises, and delivering memorable messages. Unlike the president he serves, Mr. Biden confronted Ryan directly throughout the debate, memorably saying, “Stop talking about how you care about people. Show me something. Show me a policy.”

Even more importantly, Biden forged a warmer and more emotional personal connection with viewers, particularly when addressing seniors regarding Medicare by looking directly into the camera.

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If Mr. Biden’s job tonight was to change the media narrative, Mr. Ryan’s was to prove that he’s ready for the vice presidency while holding the ground Republicans have gained over the past week. He met that challenge tonight, but didn’t exceed it. My guess is that his performance will be almost completely forgotten by next week.

Watching these debates is a bit of a Rorschach test, in which viewers see what they’re conditioned to see. What I saw in Mr. Ryan was a serious student who had studied his materials well but who had tried a bit too hard to memorize his lines—and who lost some of his authenticity as a result. With the exception of a couple of well-delivered anecdotes (particularly on his 2002 trip to Afghanistan), he came across as rather academic.

And Ryan came dangerously close to Dan Quayle territory when he referenced John F. Kennedy. “Now you’re Jack Kennedy?” an incredulous Joe Biden asked.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Still, Mr. Ryan had several good moments. He delivered a strong closing statement about the national debt, and did a credible job of discussing Afghanistan later in the debate. One highlight came when Ryan turned to Biden and said: “With respect to that quote [Mitt Romney’s infamous 47 percent comment], I think the Vice President knows that sometimes the words don’t come out of your mouth in the right way.” Unfortunately for Mr. Ryan, Biden had the perfect retort: “But I always say what I mean, and so does Romney.”

There were two other moments worth noting. First, Mr. Ryan took a deep breath in before answering a question about the availability of abortion in America under a Romney-Ryan administration. That may hurt with pro-choice voters who occasionally swing right. Second, Joe Biden chose to label Paul Ryan “my friend” 13 times during the debate, which became an insincere distraction.

Overall, Joe Biden displayed all of the passion for his job that Democrats wish President Obama had last week. And Paul Ryan held his own, even if his performance is likely to disappear into the political ether within days.

Grades: Joe Biden: B+  Paul Ryan: B-

What do you think? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.



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Live Blog: Democratic National Convention, 9/6/12

Written by Brad Phillips @MrMediaTraining on September 6, 2012 – 4:00 pm

Welcome to our live blog of the Democratic National Convention!

I’ll live blog tonight’s proceedings from the final night at the Democratic National Convention from 9pm—11pm eastern.

Tonight’s highlights include speeches from President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

Please leave any thoughts in the comments section—I’ll use a few of them for the main thread.

Finally, there’s no need to refresh your browser; new updates will automatically appear. Here we go!

Read more »


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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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May 2012: The Five Worst Video Media Disasters

Written by Brad Phillips @MrMediaTraining on May 31, 2012 – 6:08 am

Since starting my month-end disasters lists in September 2010, I’ve knocked Republican and Democratic politicians alike.

During the primary season, I tended to criticize more Republicans. That made sense, since the bruising primary fight on the Republican side absorbed the majority of political air. Despite insisting that my selections weren’t based on ideological bias but just calling ‘em as I saw ‘em, a few people accused me of bias anyway. So be it.

For the second consecutive month, the equation has flipped. Democrats have again taken the majority of the spots on this month’s list. As I said, I call ‘em like I see ‘em. You’re free to disagree with my picks, and I hope you’ll leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Without any further ado, here are my (very subjective) picks for the five worst media disasters of May 2012!

5. President Obama’s Polish Slur

President Obama created a bit of an international incident while awarding a Medal of Freedom to Jan Karski, a Polish man who fought the Nazi occupation of Poland during World War II.

Instead of referring to a “German Nazi camp in occupied Poland,” President Obama called it a “Polish death camp.” Poland’s Prime Minister referred to Obama’s remark as “ignorance, lack of knowledge, bad intentions," and said it amounted to "a distortion of history." Similarly, the Polish foreign minister blasted the President’s “ignorance and incompetence.” 

4. Joe Biden Jumps The Gun on Gay Marriage

When the Vice President said he supported gay marriage on Meet the Press, he sent the White House into a tizzy. Press Secretary Jay Carney first tried – but failed – to explain to the press why the Vice President and President had a different view on gay marriage. Within days, President Obama announced his support for same-sex marriage.

I’m not knocking the Vice President for his support of gay marriage. I’m knocking him because his off-message answer forced the President Obama to announce his own support ahead of schedule, making Obama’s proclamation look as defensive as it was courageous.

And if you think Biden’s remark was intentional, watch one of Mr. Carney’s briefings. The White House clearly hadn’t prepared for it.

3. Donald Trump Bigfoots Mitt Romney

Hours before headlining a high-profile Las Vegas fundraiser with GOP nominee Mitt Romney, circus clown Donald Trump went on CNN and reiterated his certainty that President Obama was born in Kenya.

Trump’s off message birtherism rant created a problem for Mitt Romney, since Romney has chosen to embrace the New York blowhard rather than create a healthy distance from him. Even worse? Romney officially won enough delegates to become the official Republican nominee on the same day – but those celebratory headlines were overshadowed by Trump’s actions. 

DID YOU MISS THE 10 WORST MEDIA DISASTERS OF 2011? CLICK HERE TO CATCH UP.

2. Two North Carolina “Men of Faith” Encourage Violence Toward Gays

At least two preachers this month were caught on video making disgusting comments about homosexuals. The first person, North Carolina’s Pastor Charles L. Worley, recommended putting gays behind an electrified fence to kill them off.

The second person, a North Carolina evangelical preacher named Sean Harris, instructed his flock that “the second you see your son dropping the limp wrist, you walk over there and crack that wrist. Man up. Give him a good punch. Ok?”

On their own, these two clips likely had little national impact. But as symbols of the kind of nonsense many “religious” folk are still preaching every day, they can have a major impact on the safety of gay Americans. I can’t help wondering how many more gay suicides will occur before this type of vulgar and violent rhetoric is more broadly stigmatized.

 

1. Cory Booker Strays Way Off Message

Newark Mayor Cory Booker appeared on Meet The Press this month as a surrogate for President Obama’s re-election bid. But instead of supporting the President’s attacks on Mitt Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital, Mr. Booker went rogue and offered a strong dissenting view:

"This kind of stuff is nauseating to me on both sides. It’s nauseating to the American public. Enough is enough. Stop attacking private equity….It’s either going to be a small campaign about this crap or it’s going to be a big campaign.”

 

Mr. Booker walked back his comments in the days that followed, and the jury is still out on whether or not it will hurt his own future political ambitions. But it’s clear that he forced the Obama campaign way off script and that he damaged the campaign he claimed to support.

 

Bonus Video 1: Ted Nugent Insists “I’m a Nice Guy"!”

Here’s a contradiction for you: Claiming “I’m a nice guy!” while screaming angrily. Aging rocker Ted Nugent went one better, telling the male correspondent “I’ll suck your fucking dick” and then telling a female producer “Or fuck you, how’s that sound?”

Ummm….yeah. Nice guy.  

 

Bonus Video 2: MSNBC Host Questions Word “Hero” For Military Dead

On the Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend, MSNBC host Chris Hayes questioned whether all military personnel killed in action should be labeled “heroes.” His point seemed to be that some people just find themselves in the crossfire without displaying any particular type of heroism, so labeling them as “heroes” could be used for propaganda purposes. That sparked a debate on cable news shows, websites, and on Twitter, on which thousands of tweeters disagreed about whether or not Hayes’ question was fair game.

Regardless of which side of the debate you’re on, it seems to me that asking the question over Memorial Day weekend, when hundreds of thousands of American families are grieving a loss, was particularly insensitive timing.

Bonus Video 3: A Politician Loses Control

Mike Bost, an Illinois state representative, was angry about plans to overhaul the state’s pension reform system. If he had a legitimate point, it got lost in his angry tone. The video speaks for itself. (h/t Political Wire)

What do you think of this month’s disasters list? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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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.

    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.

    Brad Phillips

    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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    Click here for more information about our customized media training workshops. To book a media training workshop, e-mail Info@PhillipsMediaRelations.com