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Barack Obama's teleprompter dies; trusted speech aid was barely 2

Democrat President Barack Obama and his beloved Teleprompter

Breaking news, literally: After helping both candidate and chief executive deliver weighty words countless times on the campaign trail, on the road to, from and within the White House, the beloved teleprompter of Democratic President Barack Obama died Monday night.

The fragile, overused speech aid was little more than 2 years old. No immediate cause of death and no autopsy were announced.

The passing of the celebrated speech-giving helper happened suddenly and unexpectedly. The president was looking right at the teleprompter, giving remarks in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building next door to the White House. He was rigorously defending his economic stimulus package, which has been rigorously criticized recently for being like many political speeches, not very stimulating.

Virtually everywhere he's gone in recent years, the teleprompter has been faithfully at Obama's side, and slightly to the front.

Through a transparent glass plate, it shows the text of even his briefest remarks, enabling the president to appear to make eye contact with eager, attentive audience members without looking down to ...

... read from a lectern text or from cue cards like late-night TV comedians. So ubiquitous was the Obama teleprompter that it launched many jokes and even some Twitter accounts that alleged to speak for the politician's essential gadget.

For countless speeches, the trusty teleprompter, controlled from offstage, slowly scrolled the ex-senator's magic words, which, along with $750 million, enabled the smooth-tongued fellow to get elected as leader of the free world and enhanced his public reputation as a really good talker.

Virtually all the important words and statements of first candidate and then president Obama began their flight as lettered images on that teleprompter screen. Including the inaugural address that so many millions watched around the world. Remember the historic line: "I've made my position abundantly clear"? That too began life on the teleprompter.

Obama and the teleprompter were a very effective team, better together than their predecessors. Obama became so attached to the faithful teleprompter that he took it virtually everywhere. He once even used the gawky machine for campaign remarks on the dirt floor of a rodeo arena. In the White House, the teleprompter could slide modestly into the floor after use, so in wide TV shots no one need know the 44th president used it.

But all that came to a crashing and dramatic end Monday night. As the president launched into his 11 minutes of stimulating remarks, according to eyewitnesses, the old teleprompter simply expired, came loose, fell silently as if in movie slow motion before the stunned eyes of watchers and smashed into many pieces on the hard floor.

"Oh, goodness!" Obama exclaimed. "Sorry about that, guys." The heartless audience of mayors, urban policy wonks and administration crowd-packers laughed out loud at the sudden death.

As if it was a mere machine, the 47-year-old president displayed no sign of concern or compassion whatsoever for his departed friend. He simply continued his speech with the surviving teleprompter on the other side.

The teleprompter's remains were removed later by janitorial personnel for private burial. An official period of mourning was not announced. Not even a moment of silence. That's the Chicago way.

The deceased Teleprompter is survived by numerous siblings and offspring, all also named Teleprompter.

— Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Alex Brandon / Associated Press

Comments () | Archives (17)

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hahah this was a hoot of a read!

Too bad about the teleprompter. I'm waiting for someone to pull the cable out of the jack in Obama's right heel, like James Coburn did to the "TPC" android in "The President's Analyst".

Obama should speak from the heart not the teleprompter!
The Fed will do anything to stop us, unfortunately we cannot afford to be stopped we have nothing to lose, we need our country and home back and Auditting the Fed is a good place to start!
It is simple, really — the larger the debt, the richer and more powerful the international bankers become. The Federal Reserve is their front organization and it runs roughshod over Congress.

The passage of HR 1207 is not certain and it faces an even more strenuous uphill battle in the Senate. It is, at this point, our only practical hope of auditing the Fed, revealing its numerous crimes, exposing its mega-grand theft scams, and delivering Donald Kohn, his boss Bernanke, and the minions of the international banksters to justice.


Were you really nominated for a Pulizter?

this sure is some important information, thanks SO MUCH

Wow, that was both funny and interesting. Just like me.

Not really.

not funny; please try again.

funny,funny,funny how u put in the 750million dollar price tag that president obama didn't put on the american people for the teleprompter system,but one former president GEORGE W.BUSH did!!

and how u forget to tell the people whom are reading this blog,that president obama writes the majority of his speeches..

he does not have someone put down every word,EVERY SINGLE WORD,that he speaks on in every speech he gives,like former presidents GEORGE H.W.BUSH,GEORGE W.BUSH,RONALD REAGON,WILLIAM J.CLINTON has done..

this is the very best of what we have been having to put up with in the white house since former PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON,and those of u at the l.a.times,and we as americans,are very blessed to have this man as our president!!

and don't forget it!!

Weak rehashing of a weak complaint about Obama. Might be forgivable had the attempt at humor actually worked. But, since you lack a real sense of what's humorous, let's instead spend our time on some things we can legitimately complain about: like the lack of prosecutions for war criminals that condoned torture under the banner of the American flag.

LOL, this was really good. I fell for it for the first couple of sentences, but then got to thinking... ;P really nice!

Very enlightening article. RIP Teleprompter. I am just excited that this President can read a teleprompter.

Ha ha ha, yeah. Too bad he has another one. And another one. And yet another one.

It would do some people in this country good to hear him actually speak like a normal person instead of being "so charming and such a wonderful speaker" by reading prepared words scrolling down a screen. Didn't anyone ever make him take a public speaking class? It's always the same thing when the prompters break:

"Ugh... ummm... duh"

Clearly he doesn't spend much time preparing for his little chats nor does he really know what he's talking about, because every time it breaks down he is like a fish out of water.

ROFL, that was funny reading it

What's funny to me is all of these commentators -- Bill O'Reilly, etc. -- criticizing Obama for using a teleprompter. And they're reading their criticisms off of...a teleprompter.

And we know what happens when Bill's teleprompter goes bad.

It must have been an inside job, there is probably intense-rivalry amongst the White House teleprompters to get the main presidents gig. Perhaps teleprompter got caught into the dirty Washington politics and was in over it's, uhhh, screen. I'd have the CIA and FBI get right on it!

HAHAHAHA I love the personification. Is that second teleprompter the vice-teleprompter?

"What will he do then?"
-Joe Biden

Loved the article. Hopefully, the dolts who voted him will soon start seeing the president is as see-through as his beloved TelePromTer.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
President Obama
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