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The 15-Seconds Blog

  • Al Gore’s Credit Crisis

    Wolf Blitzer’s blog illustrates the importance of precision in media interviews.

    In March 1999, Blitzer was interviewing then-Vice President Al Gore who was getting ready to run for President.  Wolf asked a question every candidate should be prepared to answer.  Essentially: What makes you qualified for President?

    Gore rambled on for a while in politician-speak and then disastrously said:

    “During my service in the United States Congress, I took the initiative in creating the Internet…”

    In fact, Gore DID take the lead while in the Senate in providing funding for organizations which eventually were heavily responsible for the development of the internet.  But by leaving a few words out of his explanation, he seemed to take far more credit than any man is due. Gore presented a gift to his opponents.  The Drudge Report for days ran a banner headline next to the Veep’s picture saying “I Invented the Internet.”  Gore’s imprecision has been a godsend to comics for more than a decade.


    Gore’s gaffe took what should have been a positive — his support for an organization which produced  great technological advantages — and turned it into a huge minus.  To make matters worse, Gore’s camp was slow to recognize the damage and backpedal.   His in-artful words spread like wildfire — thanks largely to the internet, a technology, which, to be clear, he did NOT invent.

    h/t: Blitzer’s Blog


  • Wave Goodbye to Media Friends

    If you are a spokesman, at a minimum, you should pretend to like reporters.

    Newt Gingrich’s flack doesn’t see it that way.  R.C. Hammond tweeted the above picture today with the caption:  “Our traveling press corp. so close to the ocean, yet I can’t push them in.”

    Sure, comments like that might endear him with some of Newt’s more rabid followers. But why (even in jest) pick a fight with the people who will have a big say in how (and if) you and your candidate are portrayed in the media.  This is not the first time we have commented on R.C.’s smoothness.

    Note to R.C.:  From the photo, you appear to have your back to the ocean  and the reporters seem to outnumber you.  If anyone is going to end up all wet — it might be you. 

  • Reporters Are Pushy – Get Over It

    Reporters and photographers can be pushy, often obnoxious and frequently downright stupid. We know – half of this 15-Second enterprise was a reporter for 40 years – the other half had to deal with “those people” for nearly as long.

    But officials need to accept that pushiness — and with rare exception, go with the flow. When they don’t, ugly scenes follow.

    Below is an example of what not to do. Chicago police took into custody an NBC photographer and WGN reporter for trying to cover a story about a six-year-old girl who was shot and killed Saturday.

    The media were not at the crime scene but rather at a hospital where the girl was taken. If the media were impeding medics or helping a criminal escape, the cops would have a beef.  They were not.

    From the story and accompanying video — it looks like Chicago’s finest overreacted. One cop can be seen on tape saying:

    “Your First Amendment rights can be terminated if you’re creating a scene or whatever.”

     Umm. No they can’t

    View more videos at: http://nbcchicago.com.

    This nation is STILL a great democracy because there is an unfettered flow of information and ideas – both broadcast and print. At the core of that first amendment right is a journalist’s duty, and yes, responsibility to cover any event – lawfully – respecting the rights of others to privacy as they do so.  Handcuffing reporters — just because you can — is what happens in other countries — not here.

    The Chicago police demonstrated that they need a refresher course in dealing with the media. As in the past, that refresher course often comes in the form of a civil law suit – sometimes it’s the only way the Chicago PD learns.  The reporter and photographer were released after about ten minutes in custody — but the impression of strong-armed tactics by the police will last much longer.