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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June 2012: The Five Worst Video Media Disasters

Written by Brad Phillips @MrMediaTraining on June 29, 2012 – 6:04 am

As we close out the first half of 2012, I’m happy to report that public figures didn’t let us down.

As usual, they committed a series of gaffes ranging from the bizarre…to the rude…to the downright cringeworthy.

So without any further ado, here’s this month’s collection, featuring a deceased spouse, some bad reporting, and an aggressive heckler.

And if you missed the ten worst media disasters of 2011, click here to catch up.

5. Hey, Martin Short: How’s Your Dead Wife Doing?

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.

Two things are noteworthy about this gaffe. First, Ms. Giffords’ question suggested a more intimate friendship with the Shorts than she clearly had. Second, note Mr. Short’s incredibly graceful reaction. His poise during an uncomfortable moment only made him look better. 

Note: Although this occurred at the end of May, it missed the deadline for last month’s list.

 

4. CNN and Fox News Blow Supreme Court Call

In their zeal to report the Supreme Court’s decision regarding the constitutionality of President Obama’s health care law, two of the biggest cable news channels blew the story. Both incorrectly reported that the individual mandate was dead.

Given the history of blown media calls—which include “Gabrielle Giffords dead,” “Gore wins Florida,” and “Dewey beats Truman,” you’d think the networks would know better than to rush information to air.

 

3. British Member of Parliament Gets Pummeled By Interviewer

This was a classic interview with an “out of the loop” spokesperson.

Chloe Smith is a young (30-year-old) conservative member of the British Parliament who serves as the Economic Secretary to the Treasury. When she appeared on Jeremy Paxman’s Newsnight to discuss the decision to delay a planned increase in fuel taxes, she failed to answer even the most direct questions.

Many of Ms. Smith’s colleagues in Parliament were furious that her boss who made the decision, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, sent her to do the show instead of doing it himself. Cover your eyes when you watch this one.

h/t @simonbriault

 

2. Blogger Heckles President Obama’s Immigration Speech

Neil Munro, a blogger for Tucker Carlson’s conservative website The Daily Caller, heckled President Obama during his immigration speech by shouting a confrontational question at him: “Why are you favoring immigrant workers over Americans?”  

Mr. Munro later claimed that he thought the President was finished with his statement and simply mistimed his question. But no other reporters were similarly confused, and some said afterwards that it was clear the President was in mid-speech.

Tucker Carlson (with whom I worked at CNN and personally like) also belongs on this list for offering a spirited defense of Munro’s uncivilized behavior.

 

1. President Obama Says The Private Sector Is “Doing Fine”

While speaking about the economy at a press conference earlier this month, President Obama said, “The private sector is doing fine.” By some measurements, that may be true. But by making such a declarative statement, he handed his opponents a perfect opportunity to label him as “out of touch.” Hours later, he walked his comment back.

His gaffe was reminiscent of Mitt Romney’s “I like being able to fire people” gaffe. Neither sentence will likely determine the outcome of November’s election. But expect to see Republicans use President Obama’s gaffe against him—and probably with some success— in hundreds of ads this fall.

 

Bonus Video 1: Candidate Covers His Bases…In an Unusual Way

One week before the Supreme Court issued its verdict on “Obamacare,” Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock pre-taped his response to the outcome.

Of course, he didn’t know what the outcome would be, so he pre-taped a response for four different options. That may not be terribly unusual – but the fact that all four videos made their way onto the web was.

Here’s Stephen Colbert’s rather hilarious take.

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Colbert News Alert – Obamacare Supreme Court Ruling – Richard Mourdock’s Responses
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog Video Archive

 

Bonus Video 2: Honeywell Security Rips Microphone Away From Reporter

Mike Elk, a reporter with the progressive In These Times, tried to ask Honeywell CEO Dave Cote a question during an event at the U.S. Capitol. During his question, a burly security person ripped the microphone out of Elk’s hands, which turned a mere adversarial question into a viral video sensation.

Later that day, Mr. Elk accused Honeywell’s “external communications director Rob Ferris of barricading him in a room for several minutes,” according to PR Daily.

Had Mr. Cote simply answered the question (heck, even if he had dodged it), this would have been a non-story.

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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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