A “Mute” Point

One of my friends told me a business conference call horror story recently. She was at a remote location, and was linked to the company mother ship by mobile phone.

It was just your typical, ordinary, corporate ho-hum when something way out of the ordinary happened. She thought her mic was muted, and went off on a rant about red tape, long delays, and slow-as-molasses procedures that just made life down home on the company cube farm unbearable.

No biggie…until she realized her mic wasn’t muted after all. Oops. Major faux-pas!

Lucky for her; everybody else at the meeting thought what she said was not only right on, but freaking hysterical! Grins and chuckles all around, and my friend emerges from a potential career mine field totally unscathed. Whew! Crisis averted.

That reminded me of a similar red-faced moment of my own from long ago.  It was live, and on the air in front of thousands of TV viewers (well, who knows how many, really–it was a very small town)…but anyway, here’s what happened:

I was anchoring the evening news, and the control room “took black”, which means that all of a sudden, the picture blanked out and there was just…nothing. They’d been doing that a lot in the weeks and months prior to this particular malfunction, so, assuming my  microphone was also off; I yell, “Hey, what the h*** is going on back there?”

Frantic arm waving from camera man. Hand slashing across throat gestures. Ugh! Blank screen, live mic!!! Aaaarghghghghgh!!!!!!

When I got home, there was a message on my answering machine from a friend. She said she’d been watching, and it was the funniest thing she’d ever seen! Blank screen, and a disembodied voice asking the exact question on everybody’s mind at the time: “Hey, what the h*** is going on?!!!!!”

But my minor-league meltdown is small potatoes compared to Fox News host Bob Beckel’s recent on-air F-Bomb during the Sean Hannity Show. He apparently thought they were still on a commercial break when he yelled “You don’t know what you’re f****ng talking about!” at a fellow panelist.

Of course, when it comes to live mic-foot-in-mouth moments; politicians do it best. Take President Obama’s  recent “private” comments to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at a nuclear conference in Seoul, Korea. Obama was caught on an open mic saying he’d have more “flexibility” on the issue of missile defense “after the next election”.

Then there was former President George W. Bush caught on mic in an unguarded moment talking to British Prime Minister Tony Blair. His take on the conflict in the Middle East? “They just need to stop doing this sh***….”

So, I guess S***  really does happen. Just make sure your mic is off when it does.

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