It’s little surprise that October was quite a month for media disasters.
Weird things happen in the final weeks of election season, and this month was no different. From the memorable presidential debates to a politician discussing rape to a California primary fight that almost turned violent, October was a month to remember.
Here are the five worst video media disasters of October 2012:
5. Al Gore blames altitude for President Obama’s bad debate performance
Democrats were left scratching their heads after President Obama’s dreadful first presidential debate
in Denver. What caused his lackluster performance, they wondered? Was he tired after four years in office? Distracted due to the debate night occurring on his 20th wedding anniversary? Did he just have an overall disrespect for the value of debates themselves?
Whatever the reason, no one had a more outlandish excuse for him than former Vice President Al Gore, who suggested that Denver’s altitude
was to blame. My favorite part of this clip? That his sycophantic co-hosts gave his idea some credence.
4. Two Democratic opponents almost come to blows
A California House race nearly became violent as two Democrats locked in a primary battle—Brad Sherman and Howard Berman—almost came to blows. It got so heated, their exchange had to be broken up by a nearby police officer.
The Jewish Journal
said, “The inciting incident came after Berman, for the second time in the debate, took credit for authoring the DREAM Act.”
3. Mitt Romney’s Libya moment and his “binders full of women”
Mitt Romney had two buzz-worthy moments during the presidential debates.
The first came in the second debate
, when—with menacingly arched eyebrows—he denied that President Obama had called the attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi an “act of terror” the day after the attack (in fact, he did use the term “act of terror” in a statement on Libya the next day).
Although Romney may have been right on his larger point, he was wrong on the specific point, allowing the president (with the help of moderator Candy Crowley) to win the exchange.
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Romney’s second memorable moment occurred during the same debate, when he explained his commitment to gender equality by sharing an anecdote about looking through “binders full of women” as Massachusetts governor to consider them for job openings.
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Sure, that phrase was inelegant (and actually not quite accurate, as this Salon.com article
reveals). But the more important question many women were asking afterward was why, after so many years in business, did the governor know so few qualified women to consider for those positions in the first place.
2. Senate candidate muddles through question about rape
During a debate in October, Indiana Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock worded his position on abortion in the case of rape as follows:
“Life is a gift from God, and I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that is something that God intended to happen.”
Critics pounced, accusing Mourdock of saying he believes that God intends rape to happen. Mourdock bitterly complained that his words had been taken out of context; he and his supporters explained that he didn’t mean that God intends for rape to occur, but rather that the life itself
is a gift from God.
Based on my reading of his comments, I’m willing to give Mourdock the benefit of the doubt. But his imprecise word choice left him open to attack. It's not as if he didn’t have ample warning to prepare a less ambiguous statement on this topic—any Republican running on a similar platform this election cycle should have improved upon Todd Akin’s awful example
1. President Obama’s first debate
First, let’s get this out of the way: This was not a “gaffe” in the traditional definition of the word. But in terms of sheer political impact, President Obama’s performance during the first presidential debate
is impossible to ignore. As a result of his lackluster performance, Romney immediately surged in the national polls and closed the gap in several swing states.
If Obama loses next Tuesday, historians will cite this debate as a major reason why. If he wins, it will be a lot closer than it otherwise could have been.
The video below is an edited compilation of some of Obama’s many “uhhhs.” It’s emblematic of how hesitant and unfocused he was throughout the entire debate.
To see two bonus gaffes from October, visit the Mr. Media Training blog.
Brad Phillips is the president of Phillips Media Relations, which specializes in media and presentation training. He tweets @MrMediaTraining.