Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The EIght Worst Media Disasters of November

Usually, I share the five worst media disasters caught on tape every month.

But something strange happened this month. For the first time, it proved impossible to reduce the list to just five disasters. Too many public figures self-immolated in spectacular fashion, and it would be plain irresponsible for me to exclude them from this list.

So this month, I’ll feature November’s eight worst video media disasters.

8. Liberal host Bill Press equates Jerry Sandusky with Herman Cain

I used to work with Bill Press at CNN and always liked him. But he was totally wrong this month when he said there’s “no difference” between Jerry Sandusky, the alleged Penn State serial child rapist, and Herman Cain, who allegedly sexually harassed several women.

Sexual harassment is serious and has potentially devastating impacts on the victims, but most people would agree that serial child rape is much more serious than the allegations leveled against Cain.

7. Herman Cain spokesman dodges and weaves

As every media spokesperson knows, it’s important to have a message and transition to it as often as possible. But Herman Cain spokesperson J.D. Gordon took that too far when he spoke with the Fox News Channel’s Geraldo Rivera about accusations of sexual harassment against Cain.

Gordon refused to answer Rivera’s direct question, “Are you denying there was a cash settlement?” numerous times, leading Rivera to scold him and ask to speak directly with Cain.

6. Child abusing judge blames daughter for her own abuse

When a seven-minute video showing a father mercilessly beating his daughter surfaced last month month, the father—a Texas family court judge—downplayed the abuse. Making matters worse, the father, Judge William Adams, blamed his daughter for his violent outbursts.

During a television interview, he tried to appear sympathetic, telling a television reporter, “As you can see, my life’s been made very difficult over all of this.” Sadly, the statute of limitations on his abuse has expired. Happily, he’s been suspended as a judge.

5. Jimmy Fallon’s band disses Michele Bachmann

When GOP presidential candidate Michele Bachmann appeared on Jimmy Fallon’s late-night talk show, the house band chose a song called “Lyin’ Ass B*tch” for her intro music.

The band’s leader, Questlove, was not suspended for his profane and inappropriate song choice, and Fallon claims he didn’t know about his band’s choice until after the show aired. Although Fallon later apologized, his show’s failure to punish Questlove calls into question whether the apology was obligatory or sincere.

4. President Obama and French President Sarkozy caught on open mic

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,” 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 editors of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel asked about President Obama’s handling of Libya. 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 excruciating seconds, 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 Perry winning the nomination. (This bizarre video of a November speech 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. Costas asked 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.)

Brad Phillips is president of Phillips Media Relations. To see a bonus media gaffe, visit his blog Mr. Media Training.

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