Morning TV Misses White House's Teleprompter Flub

March 18th, 2009 2:27 PM

Update added below.

Between the White House and the Associated Press, nobody can figure out what the President said and did. Nobody is really worried, though. Other than Fox and Friends, they're the only ones who've heard of the President's latest teleprompter gaffe.

According to the stunningly unclear AP report:

Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen was just a few paragraphs into an address at a St. Patrick's Day celebration at the White House when he realized something sounded way too familiar. Turns out, he was repeating the speech President Barack Obama had just given.
Cowen was set to speak twice at the White House on Tuesday night because there were two different parties going on at the executive mansion. No matter -- he would give the same speech to the two different audiences. But Cowen was 20 seconds into his second address when it dawned on him that he was giving word for word the speech that Obama had just read from the same teleprompter.
Cowen stopped and looked back at the president to say, "That's your speech." Obama laughed and returned to the podium to offer what might have been Cowen's remarks. In doing so, President Obama thanked President Obama for inviting everyone over.
This could possibly mean that President Obama gave both the Irish Prime Minister's remarks, and then followed by giving his own remarks – in which case, one wonders if the Irish Prime Minister was given the chance to speak for himself. Or, it could possibly mean that the Mr. Cowen's remarks were not loaded into the teleprompter – in which case, one still wonders if he was given the chance to speak for himself, or if the whole event deteriorated into a humorous, off-the-cuff event.

Aside from the hazily-written press report, Fox and Friends was the only morning TV show - cable or broadcast - to mention this story. When the AP covers a story, it’s probably a story worth covering on the networks.

What’s more, this could turn out to be a simple prompter technician error, and Obama would be the hero for having glossed over the snafu with good grace and humor. In fact, that seems to be the take from “Fox & Friends”:
DOOCY: Obama made a joke where he thanked himself. He thanked President Obama for the invitation.

If this was a joke, why skip the coverage? The media seem to be going out of their way to show Obama in a good light - why miss an opportunity? It could be that Obama's NCAA Tournament bracket was seen as bigger news than his meeting with the Irish Prime Minister. Or, it could be that the media were (again) skipping a possibly unfavorable story.

At least, that's what the teleprompter says.


The Times Online report is much clearer than the AP report.  It states that Prime Minister Cowen read through about twenty seconds of President Obama's speech before realizing that he was, in fact, giving President Obama's speech.  Then, when President Obama returned to the podium to (jokingly) give his speech again, the prompter had been updated - causing him to thank himself, as PM Cowen was prepared to thank Obama for his invitation.

However, the question still stands: Why, when both Fox and the AP (not to mention assorted foreign media outlets) thought it was important enough to report, did the mainstream media bury this story?