I’m forever fascinated by the news media, and how often they get it wrong. Anyone who has appeared in the newspaper will tell you that; “that’s not what I meant.” Often it’s breaking news they botch, such as CNN and FOX News reporting of when it was declaring that the Supreme Court had killed “Obamacare”
But it was some hours after the Aurora, Colorado shootings when ABC News’ Brian Ross, interrupting the news anchor, speculated that the shooter may have been a member of a local tea party chapter. Ah, his investigation seems to be that he Googled James Holmes and Aurora and found A James Holmes in Aurora, who is unrelated. The network issued a public apology. This was hardly the first of Ross’ premature reporting.
Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart totally lambasted Ross (at 5:00 in), and rightly so. Regret the Error explains the network’s mealy apology, while at the same time, making me suspicious of another detail of the story. “The network had reported that Holmes’ mother said ‘you have the right person’ when it contacted her to ask if her son was the shooter. She has since said she was referring to herself to let the reporter know she was Holmes’ mother.” I tend to believe Holmes’ mother’s version.
Ross, however, is hardly the only sloppy newsperson at ABC News. In a three-minute span last week, anchor Diane Sawyer made two errors. First, she noted that the British had 9,500 soldiers in Afghanistan, but 18,200 at the Olympics, which is “MORE than twice as many;” not when I went to school. Then she referred to late actor Sherman Hemsley as “Helmsley.” Forgivable mistake, perhaps, but when the reporter on the piece REPEATEDLY announces his name correctly, you’d think she’d fix it. Or, if she didn’t notice, that SOMEONE would whisper into her headphone about her miscue.
It wasn’t that long ago that the late Peter Jennings, who died in 2005, was anchoring ABC’s evening news. Those types of errors likely wouldn’t have taken place, and if they had, heads would have rolled. I’m reminded once again why I gave up my ABC News habit.