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Talk Is Cheap

When first impressions lead to second thoughts

Talk Is Cheap

1. Oprah's Unrequited Love

When Herman Rosenblat, a Holocaust survivor, told Oprah Winfrey that he met his future wife when she tossed him apples over a concentration-camp fence, Winfrey dubbed it "the single greatest love story ... we've ever told." He got a book deal, but just before Angel at the Fence's publication, Rosenblat copped to embellishment, leaving Winfrey's interview cred in a million little pieces.

2. RadioShack's Biggest Fan

Dave Edmondson got hired at RadioShack because of his "skills at capturing the attention" of then-CEO Len Roberts, first with a fan letter, then with a dynamic interview. When Edmondson became CEO, a journalist exposed lies in his résumé, forcing him to resign.

3. McCain's Palin Problem

After a brief meeting with Sarah Palin at his ranch, Republican presidential candidate John McCain asked the Alaska governor to be his running mate. "The sense you immediately get is how tough-minded and self-assured she is," a McCain adviser recalled. "She makes that impression in, like, 30 seconds." By late October, 59% of voters surveyed in a New York Times/CBS News poll said Palin was "not prepared for the job."

A version of this article appeared in the June 2009 issue of Fast Company magazine.