Media, Politics

Media Powered Tipping Points

03.28.08 | 2 Comments

Recently I had a discussion with a colleague about Barack Obama and the question arose: where did he come from? This colleague, a German national, indicated that Obama appeared out of nowhere from the international perspective. I replied that I believed he was launched as a result of the speech he delivered at the Democratic Convention where John Kerry was nominated and subsequently sunk in a swiftboat.

That got me thinking about the media’s role in the campaign and how a singular event often seems to lead to a tipping point, up or down, for any individual candidate. Thus, I decided to compile a list with videos of some memorable tipping points for politicians and celebrities.

  1. Barack Obama – This is the speech that launched his Presidential campaign.
  2. George H. W. Bush – While amassing high marks for his handling of the first Gulf War, he ignores the recession in the U.S. His inability to comprehend grocery store scanners demonstrated how distant he was from the common citizen and I believe ultimately led to his reelection loss.
  3. Mike Dukakis – Sure, it’s a Bush campaign ad. But ultimately, the image of Dukakis looking like a doofus in that tank tipped his campaign to the loss column in my opinion.
  4. Roger Clemens – Baseball legend has a very public fall while very obviously lying to Congress. Before this testimony, he may have had the benefit of the doubt after the testimony, the public thinks he’s as dirty as Barry Bonds.
  5. Hilary Clinton – Claimed to land in Bosnia in 1996 under sniper fire. Oops, tape of her being greeted by children shows she’s lying through her teeth, the excuse? She mispoke. Was this the tipping point for Clinton to move from a tight primary process to a runaway loss?
  6. Colin Powell – As Secretary of State, he presents the case for war in Iraq with completely false information. This speech was the tipping point for many citizens on opinion of the necessity to go to war, including me. Powell later claims, and somehow I do believe him, he was misled before the testimony.
  7. Howard Dean – During the primary the media has a field day with the “Dean Scream” which painted him as a madman and unelectable. This was clearly the tipping point for the worse in Dean’s campaign for President.

Well, I’m sure there are other appropriate moments, but these are all that occurred to me in my sleeplessness in Europe. It certainly is interesting and perhaps disturbing, the power of the images and sounds that can define the rise or fall of any particular person in the media eye. What do you think? Any other gems that ought to be added to this collection?