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Friday, March 20, 2009

Teleprompters & the President's Script

Teleprompters & the President’s Script

What happens to the President and his invited VIP head of state, when the teleprompter is working right, and the readers (the President and his distinguished Irish guest) read the other person’s speech?    Here is what Fox News reported on March 18th:

“But (when Irish Prime Minister) 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.  Prime Minister 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.”

A teleprompter at a White House dinner party, celebrating St. Patrick’s Day?    Have you even been to a dinner party where the hosts used a teleprompter?    Oh, that’s right, our humble dwellings are not the White House, which has access to these speechmaking aids.   But really, using a teleprompter for every public appearance?  

So where did the Teleprompter start being used by politicians?     Actually, the television industry began using these devices in the 1950’s.  As the technology improved, politicians began using the devices, with President Obama depending on his teleprompter in every public appearance.    According to  Teleprompters are often used for speeches as well. In this application, they are called Conference Teleprompter Systems. In this case, the reflector is usually a piece of glass with a special partially reflective coating. It is mostly transparent so as to not block the view of the speaker by the audience or cameras. Usually, two of these are set up, one on either side of the lectern (if there is one), so that the speaker can look around at the audience and always be able to see one.    Key word: teleprompter

“This in part is why the teleprompter trope is taking off. Mr. Obama uses it more than previous presidents. No one would care about this or much notice it as long as he showed competence, and the promise of success. Reagan, if memory serves, once took his cards out of his suit and began to read them at a welcoming ceremony, only to realize a minute or so in that they were last week's cards from last week's ceremony. He caught himself and made a joke of it. One was reminded of this the other day when Mr. Obama's speech got mixed up with the Irish prime minister's. Things happen. But the teleprompter trope has taken off: Why does he always have to depend on that thing?”    Peggy Noonan,  Wall Street Journal  Editorial Page “Declarations Column”

Never to miss an Obama misstep, Rush Limbaugh  weighed in, “I have some questions for the teleprompter, since it engaged in behavior last night that embarrassed both the Irish prime minister and the president of the United States. I mean, when a teleprompter can get somebody who is as great an orator as the president to thank himself for having this party, you gotta love this prompter. So, "Teleprompter, do you have a name?"

In the American political humor tradition, there is now a web page on the Obama teleprompter, complete with video tapes (actually YouTube clips), transcripts and merchandise

Oh, if you’d like to have a teleprompter for your every presentation and pubic speech, just go on-line and word search “buy a teleprompter”.   From a price range of several hundred to several thousand dollars, even you can never miss a word in your next presentation!  That is if you actually read the right speech.

© 2009, Jasper Welch, Four Corners Media

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