'Legitimate' rape called No. 1 PR disaster

U.S. Rep. Todd Akin. UPI/Bill Greenblatt
U.S. Rep. Todd Akin. UPI/Bill Greenblatt | License Photo

NEW YORK, Aug. 31 (UPI) -- The worst U.S. media disasters in August ranged from a Yahoo News editor's comment to a lawmaker's "legitimate rape" remark, a trade newslettter said Friday.

"This month was a doozy," said online Ragan's PR Daily, published by Lawrence Ragan Communications Inc., which puts out corporate communications, public relations and leadership-development newsletters.


No. 5 was a "hot mic" comment by Yahoo News Washington bureau chief David Chalian, the newsletter said Friday. Chalian was heard in a recorded background-noise conversation talking Tuesday about the decision by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his party to proceed with the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., despite Hurricane Isaac's making landfall.

"They are happy to have a party with black people drowning," Chalian said.

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Yahoo fired him Wednesday.

No. 4 was a Romney spokesman telling reporters to "kiss my ass," the newsletter said, explaining it included the July 31 incident because "the fallout continued into August."

Romney aide Rick Gorka lost his temper with reporters at Warsaw's Polish Tomb of the Unknown Soldier after they shouted questions at the candidate, and told reporters: "Kiss my ass. This is a holy site for the Polish people. Show some respect." He told a Politico reporter to "shove it."

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Gorka was quickly sidelined by the campaign.

No. 3 was Vice President Joe Biden telling a Danville, Va., crowd, including many blacks, that Republicans would put them "back in chains."

Biden said Aug. 14 that Romney vowed, if he were president, "to let the big banks write their own rules -- unchain Wall Street!"

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He then said, "They're going to put y'all back in chains."

Biden later denied his comments had any racial context.

No. 2 was actor Clint Eastwood's unscripted endorsement of Romney at the GOP convention Thursday night minutes before Romney accepted his party's nomination. In his speech, Eastwood, 82, pretended to have a sarcasm-filled conversation with Obama sitting by his side in an empty chair.

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Eastwood's remarks were "off-message, bizarre, and embarrassing -- and the news media spent precious minutes gossiping about Eastwood instead of Romney," Ragan writer Brad Phillips wrote in the newsletter.

The Romney campaign quickly issued a statement: "Judging an American icon like Clint Eastwood through a typical political lens doesn't work. His ad-libbing was a break from all the political speeches, and the crowd enjoyed it."

Romney aides later distanced themselves from the decision to put Eastwood onstage without a script.

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The No. 1 media disaster, the newsletter said, was Rep. Todd Akin's remark that female rape victims have a natural ability to avoid pregnancy if the rape is "legitimate."

"From what I understand from doctors, that's really rare," he told KTVI-TV, St. Louis, Aug. 19, referring to pregnancy from rape. "If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."

Many Republicans strongly condemned Akin's contentious and scientifically incorrect remarks, with Romney saying they were "inexcusable, insulting, and frankly, wrong." Akin has refused calls by Romney, running mate Paul Ryan and many other prominent Republicans to step down from his Senate campaign.

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