When Presidents Say Too Much

America is the King of the Pendant, the place where even the smallest of snide asides, or misplaced word said in jest, or seriousness, by a prominent figure can be blown out of proportion and treated differently if Joe Public has said it.

Former US President Ronald Reagan caused an international incident in August 1984 when a joke he made at a radio sound check stating ‘My fellow Americans, I’m pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia (sic) forever. We begin bombing in five minutes. “, put the Soviet Union’s Far East Army on alert

Then there was the time respected financial journal Bloomberg reported that Apple CEO Steve Jobs had passed away. Luckily it was pulled before any damage could be done to the company’s share price.

Another well-known incident was Politically Incorrect host Bill Maher when talking about the 9-11 hijackers. He said, in response to one of the panelists on his show saying the people responsible for flying the airplanes into the World Trade Centre Towers weren’t cowards: “We have been the cowards. Lobbing cruise missiles from two thousand miles away. That’s cowardly. Staying in the airplane when it hits the building. Say what you want about it. Not cowardly. You’re right.” The show was then cancelled.

I draw this to your attention because last week, current President Barack Obama criticised Microsoft’s Xbox 360 console and called for parents to “put away the Xbox” for the sake of their kids, during a speech celebrating the 100th anniversary of the NAACP.

Now, you could argue that President Obama has the right to say what he likes, however, he also needs to consider the impact that his statements can have on business. I’m not trying to defend Microsoft, or the Xbox, or any gaming console for that matter, and its affect on society as a whole. I mean, Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo are never going to win the argument that gaming consoles are great for your health, even if they are now producing interactive games.

But if a prominent figure is going to single out one console, then he needs to mention them all, or none at all. To its credit, Microsoft didn’t hide from the issue and said that while it saw President Obama’s point of view, it did point out that it was the only console on the market that had a timing feature so parents can track their child’s usage and put time limits on when they play games.

Are prominent figures allowed a point of view? Of course they are. I guess my point is; they need to be fair and balanced about it.