When a panic attack strikes you on national TV

A subject expert recently went on a television news program to give live insights on a breaking story. His meltdown and the self-revelatory post that followed are striking in discrete ways.

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An Australian lecturer recently suffered—and rebounded from—what he called “the worst public embarrassment of my career.”

Dr. Benjamin Habib of Melbourne’s Latrobe University appeared on live television to discuss North Korea’s rocket launch. He froze—and the anchors quickly killed the interview.

Shortly after launching my website in 2010, I started a feature called “The Worst Video Media Disaster of the Month.” I became somewhat well known for that series, but I have since killed that feature.

I still write occasionally about media and speaking disasters. Public figures and elected officials who bully and treat others badly deserve scrutiny, but when the bad moments happen to people who were formerly anonymous—or at least not well known—I try to write with a more compassionate tone and offer productive advice about how that person might move on. I do so now.

What makes Habib’s interview interesting is what happened afterward. He wrote a lengthy essay for his blog, in which he described the humiliating experience and his battle with mental illness, which, he says, contributed to his on-air performance.

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