The Halftime Report: What’s The Worst Gaffe of 2011?

Hard to believe, but we’re already halfway through 2011.

That means it’s time to vote for the worst media disaster of the first half of 2011!

Please select your nominee for the year’s worst media disaster so far by voting below. And scroll down to remind yourself of each of the disasters by watching the videos of the media gaffes.

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OPTION ONE: NPR Fundraiser Ron Schiller Blasts Republicans and the Tea Party

Chief NPR fundraiser Mr. Schiller went to lunch with a couple of men claiming to be Muslim donors. It turned out they were Republican activists with a hidden camera.

During the lunch, Mr. Schiller shared his views of the Tea Party:

“Basically, they believe in white, middle America, gun-toting — it’s pretty scary. They’re seriously racist, racist people.”

It’s rarely a good idea to brand an entire group as racist. That he generalized about the motives of an entire group of people was bad enough, but that he did it while NPR was in the midst of an already heated debate about its public funding was flabbergasting. His comments not only led to his immediate resignation, but the resignation of NPR’s CEO, as well.

Click here to see my full analysis, “If You Don’t Want It In Print, Don’t Say It At All”


OPTION TWO: Charlie Sheen’s Sad Downward Spiral

There’s little funny about addiction, and Charlie Sheen’s dangerous spiral is sad to watch.

His out-of-touch radio interview with sycophantic radio host Alex Jones led to Mr. Sheen’s dismissal from his top-rated sitcom, Two and a Half Men. During the interview, Sheen makes vaguely anti-Semitic comments about “Men”” creator Chuck Lorre, calls Alcoholics Anonymous a “bootleg cult,” and labels Thomas Jefferson a “pussy.” He tops off his tirade by threatening to “murder” those who attack his family.

Click here to read my analysis of this incident, “Why #Winning Isn’t Funny.”


OPTION THREE: Sarah Palin’s “Blood Libel” Speech

On the morning of President Obama’s speech from Tucson, Sarah Palin released a video blaming the media for committing “blood libel.” No matter that the term is an anti-Semitic slur referring to Jews murdering Christians.

Democrats predictably reacted angrily to the video. But her poll numbers also plummeted with independents and Republicans. Instead of using the moment to expand her base by issuing a gracious statement, Ms. Palin narrowed it instead, leading many political prognosticators to declare her 2012 hopes dead.


OPTION FOUR: Bob Parsons, CEO, Shoots Elephant

The founder of released a video of himself killing an elephant during a recent trip to Africa. He posed over the dead elephant’s carcass with a self-satisfied grin, set the video’s soundtrack to AC/DC’s “Hell’s Bells,” and blamed PETA for the fall-out.

Wait, there’s more. He threatened to sue bloggers who showed the video – even though he originally released the video himself. And he never did apologize, instead insisting he would murder elephants again. As a result of his bad behavior, Mr. Parsons lost thousands of customers, including me (see story here).

The original video is no longer available due to Parsons’ copyright claim; although this news clip will give you a good summary, the original was much, much more graphic.


OPTION FIVE: Anthony Weiner’s Offensive PR Offensive

After getting caught sexting naughty photos to strangers, Mr. Weiner:

  1. Denied the charges, claiming his account had been hacked.
  2. Said that although he hadn’t sent the photos, he couldn’t rule out “with certitude” that the erect undies shot was of him.
  3. Held a tearful press conference to admit he had sexted the photos himself, but would refuse to resign.
  4. Watched helplessly as a nude photo of his…ahem…member…was released.
  5. Saw his private news about his wife’s early-term pregnancy announced to the world.
  6. Saw yet another batch of sexy gym photos released.
  7. Resigned in shame.

Although his two press conferences were also dreadful, his first defiant hallway interview may have been the worst.

Click for our full analyses of this incident: Anthony Weiner’s “Bulge” Photo Crisis, and Weiner Press Conference: Responsibility Without Sacrifice.


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