Archives for March 2012

Silence is Golden

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It is certainly expected of a US president to know better than to make a careless media mistake when cameras and microphones are present.  However, President Obama’s Red-faced moment came when he was recorded telling President Dmitry Medvedev that he would have more ‘flexibility’ after November’s elections to deal with petulant issues such as missile defense.

This comment came during an exchange between the two presidents in Seoul, South Korea.  Russian President Medvedev, who is scheduled to step down in May, said that he would pass the message on to his successor Vladimir Putin.

Not playing politics, we note that a similar mistake was made by “lame duck” president, Republican Ronald Reagan as he ran for re-election in 1984. Joking during a sound-check he said, “My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.” This microphone gaffe was leaked later and the Soviet Far East Army was put on alert.

It seems that our heads-of-state are in need of executive media training, too, in avoiding careless comments that could result in heightening international tensions. As the wise old saying goes, Silence is Golden.

Santorum Peruses Romney’s Policies on Etch A Sketch

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Looks like Mitt Romney’s senior campaign adviser could have used some serious media training before he commented on CNN that the campaign will “hit a reset button” to take on President Barack Obama in the fall if Romney wins the GOP nomination. Adding “it’s almost like an Etch A Sketch — you can kind of shake it up, and we start all over again.”

Of course, top conservative Republican rivals Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich quickly seized this opportunity to attack Romney over his shifting stances. Santorum’s campaign posted this picture on Twitter of him using an Etch a Sketch to “study up on (Romney’s) policy positions.” While Gingrich declared, “You could not have found a more perfect illustration of why people distrust Romney.”

The caricature of Romney as a politically motivated flip-flopper extended far beyond the campaign and right-wing blogosphere. Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D) joked about Romney at a dinner Wednesday night honoring fellow former Senate Majority Leaders Bob Dole and Howard Baker for their legacies of bipartisanship: “Tonight we are here to honor two distinct, different Republicans — and no, I’m not talking about Mitt Romney,” Daschle said.

Word pictures are powerful and often encouraged in our LA media coaching, but they can backfire. Had this senior campaign adviser tested his word picture in on camera practice, he would have had the second opinions of former journalists to advise him.

Humperdinck Still in a Boy Band?

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British political commentator Dr. Anthony Seldon should know better than to venture out of politics after this Red-faced media moment. The gaffe came when the headmaster of expensive Wellington College in Berkshire was asked to comment on the decision to name Engelbert Humperdinck the UK candidate for this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.

According to the DailyMail, Dr. Seldon replied on a live radio show: “I think that he is absolutely excellent. I’m all for boy-bands and young singers.”

Dr. Seldon was heard asking, “He’s old?” after he was reminded on the air that the British singer Humperdinck is 75 years old and qualifies as a pensioner. Later, the distinguished scholar insisted that he was only joking, adding “I was trying to be ironic but nobody believes me.”

Looks like media mistakes happen from Los Angeles to London. Dr. Seldon’s Red-faced moment occurred when he bluffed at not remembering Humperdinck. READY FOR MEDIA’s executive media training would have taught him not to lie, mislead or try to bluff.

Jeremy Lin’s “Chink in the Armor”

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In the midst of America’s sports Lin-sanity, two ESPN employees used the phrase “chink in the armor” once too often to describe Jeremy Lin’s performance against the New Orleans Hornets.

ESPN’s headline writer Anthony Federico made the faux pas when he posted this headline on ESPN’s mobile website: “Chink in the Armor: Jeremy Lin’s 9 Turnovers Cost Knicks in Streak-Snapping Loss to Hornets.” The headline was live on the web for more than a half hour before someone realized that it might be construed as an offensive racist remark – Federico was fired the following day.

ESPN’s second Lin-related media mistake came a few days earlier when Max Bretos, a well known ESPN anchor, posed the following question live on the air: “If there is a chink in the armor, where can he improve his game?” As punishment for his gaffe, Bretos was given a 30-day suspension.

The question is how is it possible to make such careless, Red-faced media mistakes? Sometimes, anchors and headline writers are too clever for their own good.

It’s time to retire the phrase “chink in the armor.”