October 2012: The Five Worst Video Media Disasters

Written by Brad Phillips @MrMediaTraining on November 1, 2012 – 5:30 am

It’s little surprise that October was quite a month for media disasters.

Weird things happen in the final weeks of election season, and this month was no different. From the memorable presidential debates to a politician discussing rape to a California primary fight that almost turned violent, October was a month to remember.

Here, without further ado, are the five worst video media disasters of October 2012!

5. Al Gore Blames Altitude for Obama’s Bad Debate Performance

Democrats were left scratching their heads after President Obama’s dreadful first presidential debate in Denver. What caused his lackluster performance, they wondered? Was he tired after four years in office? Distracted due to the debate night occurring on his 20th wedding anniversary? Did he just have an overall disrespect for the value of debates themselves?

Whatever the reason, no one had a more outlandish excuse for him than former Vice President Al Gore, who suggested that Denver’s altitude was to blame. My favorite part of this clip? That his sycophantic co-hosts gave his idea some credence.


4. Two Democratic Opponents Almost Come to Blows

A California House race nearly became violent as two Democrats locked in a primary battle—Brad Sherman and Howard Berman—almost came to blows. It got so heated, their exchange had to be broken up by a nearby police officer.

The Jewish Journal reported that, “The inciting incident came after Berman, for the second time in the debate, took credit for authoring the DREAM Act.”


3. Mitt Romney’s Libya Moment and His “Binders Full of Women”

Mitt Romney had two buzz-worthy moments during the presidential debates.

The first came in the second debate, when—with menacingly arched eyebrows—he denied that President Obama had called the attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi an “act of terror” the day after the attack (in fact, he did use the term “act of terror” in a statement on Libya the next day).

Although Mr. Romney may have been right on his larger point, he was wrong on the specific point, allowing the President (with the help of moderator Candy Crowley) to win the exchange.

Mr. Romney’s second memorable moment occurred during the same debate, when he explained his commitment to gender equality by sharing an anecdote about looking through “binders full of women” as Massachusetts governor to consider them for job openings.

Sure, that phrase was inelegant. But the more important question many women were asking afterward was why, after so many years in business, Mr. Romney knew so few qualified women to consider for those positions in the first place.


2. Senate Candidate Steps on Rape Landmine

During a debate earlier this month, Indiana Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock worded his position on abortion in the case of rape as follows:

“Life is a gift from God, and I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that is something that God intended to happen.”


Critics pounced, accusing Mourdock of saying he believes that God intends rape to happen. Mourdock bitterly complained that his words had been taken out of context; he and his supporters explained that he didn’t mean that God intends for rape to occur, but rather that the life itself is a gift from God.

Based on my reading of his comments, I’m willing to give Mourdock the benefit of the doubt. But his imprecise word choice left him open to attack. And it’s not like he didn’t have ample warning to prepare a less ambiguous statement on this topic—any Republican running on a similar platform this election cycle should have improved upon Todd Akin’s awful example.


1. President Obama’s First Debate

First, let’s get this out of the way: this was not a “gaffe” in the traditional definition of a gaffe. But in terms of sheer political impact, President Obama’s performance during the first presidential debate is impossible to ignore. As a result of his lackluster performance, Governor Romney immediately surged in the national polls and closed the gap in several vital swing states.

If President Obama loses next Tuesday, historians will cite this debate as a major reason why. If he wins, it will be a lot closer than it otherwise could have been.

The video below is an edited compilation of some of Mr. Obama’s many “uhhhs.” It’s emblematic of how hesitant and unfocused he was throughout the entire debate.


Bonus #1: Mitt Romney Surrogate John Sununu’s Racist Statement

If you’re white, you’re almost certainly voting for Mitt Romney because he’s white, too. Right?

That was the logic behind a statement made by former New Hampshire Governor (and current Mitt Romney surrogate) John Sununu. After General Colin Powell—who served as George W. Bush’s Secretary of State—announced his support for President Obama, Sununu shamefully reduced Mr. Powell to merely being a black man who casts his vote on racial identity alone instead of being a person whose votes are based on actual thought.


Bonus #2: Joe Walsh: Women Don’t Die Due to Pregnancy Anymore

Did you know that women don’t die during childbirth anymore?

That, according to Congressman Joe Walsh (R-IL), who says “life of the mother” exceptions to abortion laws are no longer necessary since medical technology makes such cases non-existent.

If only someone could share that news with American’s uncooperative women, who occasionally lose their lives due to complications of pregnancy.

If you like my blog, please stay in touch on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/MrMediaTraining and on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/MrMediaTraining. Thanks for reading!

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July 2012: The Five Worst Video Media Disasters

Written by Brad Phillips @MrMediaTraining on July 31, 2012 – 6:02 am

A politician heckles his disabled opponent.

A killer says his act was “God’s will.”

A journalist implies that Tea Partiers have a connection to mass murder.

Those three things can only mean one thing: It’s time for the five worst video media disasters of July!

5. Congressman Questions Heroism of His Legless Opponent

Republican Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh, who is running for re-election, never served in the U.S. military. His opponent, Democrat Tammy Duckworth, lost both of her legs while co-piloting a Black Hawk helicopter in Iraq.

So what did Walsh do? He criticized her for talking about her military service and questioned whether she was a “real hero.”


4. George Zimmerman Says Trayvon Martin’s Killing Was “God’s Plan”

After seeing Jerry Sandusky’s painful television interview with Bob Costas, you would think that George Zimmerman’s lawyers would have thought twice before putting Trayvon Martin’s killer on television. (If you haven’t been following the case, Trayvon Martin was an unarmed African American teenager; Zimmerman was a local “Neighborhood Watch” captain.)

No such luck. When asked by host Sean Hannity whether he had any regrets about the night of Martin’s killing, Zimmerman said he didn’t, adding, “I feel that it was all God’s plan.” 


3. President Obama: "You Didn’t Build That.”

The President’s clumsy phrasing of a key line during a recent speech led to criticism from his opponent and a harmful political ad. Here’s what President Obama said:

"If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet."


Mitt Romney’s campaign quickly reacted with an ad featuring an outraged entrepreneur reacting to this line: “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”

It seems clear to me that the President wasn’t saying that. The “that” in the sentence clearly appears to be modifying roads and bridges, and his meaning appears to be that governments have funded important items (e.g. infrastructure and the Internet) that allow business to thrive.

I expect that conservatives will charge me with “bias” for that conclusion, but I felt differently about the President’s “The private sector is doing fine” quip, for which he deserved criticism – and I said so at the time.

So why am I including this on the list? Because in an age when badly phrased ideas become toxic political ads, politicians (unfortunately) have no margin for error. This wouldn’t have been an issue if he had clarified the subject of his sentence more precisely, saying something such as, “If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build the roads and highways that lead your customers there. The government did.”

2. ABC Reporter Brian Ross Equates Tea Party With Mass Murder

Just hours after the shooting that killed 12 people in Aurora, Colorado, ABC Investigative Reporter Brian Ross went on Good Morning America to share something “significant” that he had learned.

Anchor George Stephanopoulos: “You found something that might be significant.”

Reporter Brian Ross: “There is a Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado…on the Colorado Tea Party site as well, talking about him joining the Tea Party last year.”

Two things: First, since when is being in the Tea Party synonymous with mass homicide? Ross seemed to be suggesting that his membership in the Tea Party was somehow revealing. Second, he had the wrong Jim Holmes. Ross later apologized.

1. Mitt Romney’s Rough Start in London

Mitt Romney had hoped to establish his foreign policy bona fides during his first international trip as the presumptive Republican nominee. Instead, he insulted his foreign hosts when asked whether London was ready for their moment in the spotlight.

Instead of offering the diplomatic platitudes one might expect, Governor Romney said, “It’s hard to know just how well it will turn out. There are a few things that were disconcerting.”

In response, British Prime Minister mocked Mr. Romney’s tenure as the head of the Salt Lake City Olympics, saying: “Of course, it’s easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere.”

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Bonus Video 1: Chris Christie Takes “Jersey Shore” Too Literally

While strolling on a Jersey Shore boardwalk, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie got criticized by a man who didn’t like his education policy. Mr. Christie followed the man, shouting, “You’re a real big shot. You’re a real big shot. You’re a real big shot, shooting your mouth off.”

In this video, the Governor looks more like The Situation than the state’s chief executive. And you wonder why New Jersey gets a reputation.


Bonus Video 2: San Diego’s 15-Second July 4th Fireworks Show

San Diego’s big fireworks show was supposed to last for 15 minutes. But due to a technical failure, all of the fireworks were launched at the same moment, leading to one of the shortest fireworks displays of all time.

In 30 spectacular seconds, the fireworks show began with the grand finale, ended prematurely, and left thousands of disappointed people wanting more. 

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November 2011: The Eight Worst Video Media Disasters, Pt. 2

Written by Brad Phillips @MrMediaTraining on December 1, 2011 – 6:22 am

Did you miss part one, which featured four of the biggest video media disasters of November? Click here to catch up.

Yesterday, I featured the first half of my selections for the worst video media disasters of November. Today, I’ll complete the countdown with my picks for the four worst video media disasters of the month.

And believe me, folks – some of these clips are truly jaw-dropping.

#4: President Obama and French President Sarkozy Caught on Open Mic

U.S. President Barack Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy were caught by an open microphone blasting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. After Sarkozy called Netanyahu a “liar,” Mr. Obama reportedly responded, “You may have had enough of him, but I have to deal with him every day.” The comments sparked a diplomatic kerfuffle and national headlines throughout Israel. Both men should have known better than to speak so candidly in earshot of reporters.

#3: Herman Cain Has All This Stuff Twirling Around In His Head

GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain froze when he was asked about President Obama’s handling of Libya by editors of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Mr. Cain stammered for 65 painful seconds, offering such gems as “No, that’s a different one,” and “I got all of this stuff twirling around in my head.”

#2: Rick Perry’s “Oops” Moment

During a Republican presidential debate, Texas Governor Rick Perry confidently declared he would eliminate three government agencies – and promptly forgot what they were. For 47 painful seconds, Mr. Perry tried to recall the third agency he would eliminate. He finally gave up, shrugged his shoulders, and said, “oops.” That one moment likely sank any chances of Mr. Perry winning the nomination. (This bizarre video of a November speech likely didn’t help either.)

#1: (Alleged) Penn State Child Rapist Jerry Sandusky Speaks

Jerry Sandusky, a former football coach at Penn State University, spoke to NBC’s Bob Costas about horrific allegations that he raped numerous boys. Mr. Costas asked Mr. Sandusky this direct question: “Are you sexually attracted to young boys?” An innocent person would typically answer that question in only one way (“Hell, no.”). But Sandusky chose a different answer, one that was downright creepy. (fast forward to 7:15)

Bonus Disaster: Lawmaker Loses Control, Screams at Constituents

When Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh met with his constituents at a town hall meeting, he suddenly erupted, telling the voters he was “pissed off.” He might consider registering for anger management classes prior to his next meeting.

Don’t miss a single gaffe! Follow me on Twitter at @MrMediaTraining and on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/MrMediaTraining.

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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.

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