15-Seconds logo

The 15-Seconds Blog

  • What the Vice President Meant To Say…

    It is generally not good when the press corps laugh at your answers — unless you were trying to be funny.

    White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs today drew some laughs when he tried to explain away comments Vice President Biden made this morning about swine flu. Gibbs tried to give a rational statement about what people should do when they have flu like symptoms and then said that that was also what Biden said and meant to say.

    When challenged about the matter, Gibbs retreated to the position…well, that is what he MEANT to say.

    What did Joe say?

    “I would tell members of my family, and I have, I wouldn’t go anywhere in confined places now. It’s not that it’s going to Mexico, it’s you’re in a confined aircraft when one person sneezes it goes all the way through the aircraft. That’s me. I would not be, at this point, if they had another way of transportation suggesting they ride the subway. “

    A spokesperson for the VEEP also had to issue a written statement “clarifying” Bidens remarks.

    Getting corrected by your boss’s spokesman and your own in a single day is nothing to sneeze at.


  • Stunt Flying

    The White House, Air Force, and FAA teamed up today to pull off a really dumb stunt as seen in this video from the NY Daily News.

    One of the 747’s routinely used as Air Force One was dispatched, along with an F-16 fighter, to fly low and slow around New York City — with the aircraft posing for pictures as they cruised past the Statue of Liberty and other sites.

    Unfortunately, there was no prior warning to the public — many of whom panicked when they saw a scene eerily reminiscent of 9/11.

    Mayor Bloomberg is irate (not an unusual condition for him) and so are the elected representatives from New York — and, well, just about everyone.

    When you screw up this badly — it is important to apologize quickly and profusely.

    The White House got the quick part…within hours they released a terse written statement from Louis Caldera, head of the White House Military Office.

    The statement (in its entirety) said:

    “Last week, I approved a mission over New York. I take responsibility for that decision. While federal authorities took the proper steps to notify state and local authorities in New York and New Jersey, it’s clear that the mission created confusion and disruption. I apologize and take responsibility for any distress that flight caused.”

    Caldera, a former Secretary of the Army, should have a better idea about how to fall on one’s sword. How about some adjectives, Lou? How about saying “I am very, very sorry”? The terse mea culpa does not sound heartfelt…but rather appears to have been elicited at gunpoint.

    UPDATE: As could be predicted Caldera resigned on May 8th over the plane flap

    When you screw up that badly — you need to do better than just saying: “My bad.”


  • Know Who You Are Talking To

    Slate has an interesting article examining the question “Are reporters allowed to misrepresent themselves?” The question was sparked by recent stories about a British tabloid (News of the World) sending a reporter pretending to be a sheikh to try to buy the young girl who starred in “Slumdog Millionaire.”

    Is such trickery kosher? The answer:

    Yes, in Britain. According to the Press Complaints Commission, an independent body that monitors the British press, a reporter can engage in “misrepresentation or subterfuge,” but only when it is deemed “in the public interest.”

    In the U.S., many news organizations have rules against such trickery — but television news magazines like NBC’s Dateline and CBS’s 60 Minutes have been known to use hidden cameras and shills to lure in unsuspecting folks.

    All this reminds us that it is important to always know to whom you are talking…and even when you think you are talking to a reporter, you should do your research in advance. The clip below shows one of the pitfalls when you fail to do so.