August 29, 2006

CNN sorry for Bush speech gaffe

By Paul J. Gough

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - CNN apologized Tuesday
after an open mike transmitted an anchor's bathroom
conversation with another woman live over the network as it was
carrying President Bush's speech in New Orleans.

"Live From" anchor Kyra Phillips had apparently left the
set around 12:48 p.m. EDT Tuesday for a bathroom break while
the news channel carried Bush's speech marking the one-year
anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Phillips' wireless microphone
was turned on and picked up about a minute and a half of a
muffled conversation she had with an unidentified woman where
she apparently talked about her husband, laughed and talked
about her brother.

"I've got to be protective of him," she said without being
aware that the mic was on. "He's married, three kids, and his
wife is just a control freak." CNN anchor Daryn Kagan broke
into the telecast immediately afterward updating viewers on
what Bush had been saying.

"CNN experienced audio difficulties during the president's
speech today in New Orleans," the CNN statement read. "We
apologize to our viewers and the president for the disruption."

CNN apologized to the White House on Tuesday afternoon. It
wasn't clear whether it was a technical or human malfunction,
and CNN, citing corporate policy, said it wouldn't comment on
whether anyone would be disciplined. It seemed unlikely that
anyone would.

CNN hasn't been immune to technical problems, particularly
during political events. In November, a gaffe during a live
speech by Vice President Dick Cheney showed an intermittent "X"
on the screen. CNN apologized and fired a telephone operator
who told a caller who complained that the network was
exercising "free speech."

And in July 2004, viewers heard Democratic National
Convention producer Don Mischer swear over an open microphone
when balloons didn't immediately drop after a speech by Sen.
John Kerry, the party's presidential nominee.

But some in the TV business said Tuesday that CNN should
have had a system of checks and balances in place to make sure
anchor's mikes are off when they're not on the air.

"It's a cardinal rule," one executive said.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter