Betsy DeVos

The Betsy DeVos 60 Minutes Interview Debacle

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was interviewed by Lesley Stahl on CBS’s 60 Minutes Sunday night.

Her goal was to highlight the Trump Administration’s views on education policy and school choice. Instead, one stunningly flat-footed exchange went viral almost immediately, calling into question her knowledge about public schools, school choice, and the very agency she leads.

In this post, I’ll focus on where she went wrong and how leaders and spokespersons can better prepare for challenging interviews.


Lord Bell: Loud Cell + Lousy Sell = Interview Hell

Some media disaster posts write themselves.

Lord Timothy Bell—co-founder of one of the UK’s largest PR firms—is no stranger to controversy. His firm has engaged in propaganda campaigns and boasts a controversial client list. But his firm’s dubious work in South Africa may lead to the demise of the firm he started.

If his goal in this BBC interview was to help preserve his reputation, let’s just say it didn’t work.


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.

Hillary Clinton Email Press Conference August 2015

August 2015: The Worst Video Media Disaster

For months, Hillary Clinton has been dealing with a crisis regarding her use of a personal server and email account to send and receive work-related emails while Secretary of State.

Whether you believe this crisis is justified by the facts or the result of an unfair partisan attack, she should have been able to answer a direct question during a recent press conference (“Did you wipe the server?”) directly. Instead, she offered a glib sarcasm, feigned ignorance, and shrugged her shoulders.

It was a performance that led to negative press, reduced her poll numbers, and emboldened her opponents.

Cara Delevingne

Who’s To Blame For This Awkward Interview?

Last week, model and actress Cara Delevingne appeared on “Good Morning Sacramento” to plug her new film, Paper Towns. The interview didn’t go well. The anchors asked lazy and condescending questions, including this gem about the movie’s source material:

Host #1: “Did you have a chance to read [the book]?”

Delevingne (sarcastically): “No, I never read the book or the script, actually, I kind of winged it.”

Things only got worse from there.


July 2015: The Worst Video Media Disaster

Donald Trump’s knack for getting media attention has catapulted him to the top of the Republican polls.

But whether you love him or loathe him, his dismissive comments about Senator John McCain being captured as a POW during the Vietnam War were awful and deserving of this month’s worst video media disaster recognition.

Of course, this post is probably beside the point. I can’t shake the feeling that Trump will be the first person in the history of the “worst video media disaster” series who relishes—and is somehow strengthened by—earning the title.


How To Guarantee More Media Coverage For Your Topic

There’s no better way to guarantee more media coverage for an issue you don’t want the media to cover than to blow up at a reporter about that issue. Especially if your blowup is recorded.

Bryan Price, the manager of the Cincinnati Reds, serves as the latest case study. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer:

“Upset by the


March 2015: The Worst Video Media Disaster

Indiana’s new “religious freedom” law is exactly that to its supporters—but it’s an anti-gay discrimination law to its detractors.

Governor Mike Pence, who signed the bill into law last week, has been on the defensive since then, facing both an in-state and out-of-state backlash. Indianapolis-based Angie’s List put a major construction project on hold, and,

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