What do sluts, hoodies, and a popular children’s toy have in common?
If you said they all made March’s month-end media disasters list, you’d be right. (If you came up with any other answer to that question, you’re probably a bit twisted.)
Here are the five worst video media disasters of March:
5. Singer sings “F*ck You” at presidential fundraiser
I like singer Cee Lo Green. He’s a talented musician, and he’s a fun coach on NBC’s The Voice
. But he exercised lousy judgment when he entertained a crowd at an Obama fundraiser by singing the uncensored version of his hit song “F*ck You.” If that wasn’t enough, he also gave the crowd the middle finger.
For the record, I own that song. I like that song. But context matters, and creating an unnecessary distraction for the President made the fundraiser more about Cee Lo than the President’s re-election bid.
And by the way, National Review
editor Rich Lowry never heard of Cee Lo. Come on, Rich, you’re just a few years older than me. Get with the program.
4. President Obama gets caught on an open mic
At a meeting between President Obama and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, a hot microphone caught this conversation:
President Obama: “On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this can be solved, but it’s important for him to give me space.”
President Medvedev: “Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space. Space for you … .”
Obama: “This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.”
Medvedev: “I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir.”
Sure, most people understand that this type of interaction is common in international diplomacy. But by making his comment with microphones present, President Obama not only gave his Republican rivals an opening, but reportedly put Poland on edge
. Plus, the President appeared a bit over-confident about his chances for re-election. He should know better than to make such comments in the presence of microphones.
3. Mitt Romney advisor compares him to an “Etch a Sketch”
When asked whether Mitt Romney would shift toward the ideological center during the general election, top advisor Eric Fehrnstrom answered:
“Well, I think you hit a reset button for the fall campaign. Everything changes. It’s almost like an Etch a Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and we start all over again.”
Given that Romney’s professed commitment to conservative values is already viewed with deep suspicion by many conservative voters, few gaffes could hurt him more. His opponents—Republican and Democrat alike—pounced on the mistake. Expect this gaffe to stick with Romney through the rest of the campaign.
2. A gun didn’t kill Trayvon Martin—his jacket did
Trayvon Martin, an African American teenager, was gunned down last month by George Zimmerman, a man of mixed ethnicity (Hispanic and white). Martin’s death has spawned national outrage and a heated discussion about race, particularly because many signs point to Martin’s innocence and the shooter’s guilt. (Zimmerman has not been jailed over the incident.)
But Fox News Host Geraldo Rivera cast blame somewhere else—at Martin’s clothing. “The hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman was,” Rivera argued.
In making that argument, Rivera unfairly shifted the burden of blame away from Martin’s killer and onto the victim and his parents.
1. Rush Limbaugh’s “slut” attack
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.
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. 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.
Although Limbaugh made these comments at the end of last month, the controversy reached its peak in March.
Visit the Mr. Media Training blog to see two bonus disasters. Brad Phillips is the author of the Mr. Media Training Blog and president of Phillips Media Relations, which specializes in media and presentation training.