Political Animal


December 13, 2012 12:08 PM Regrets

By Ed Kilgore

For a quick fun read, you can’t beat Poynter’s annual listing of notable media errors and corrections. Heading the list, of course, is the dual CNN/Fox News blown call on the Supreme Court’s ruling on Obamacare, based on a hasty misunderstanding of the Chief Justice’s initial words in announcing the decision.

The other “winners” range from the hilarious (a misspelling of the word “correction” in a Toronto Sun correction note) to the horrifying (a variety of misidentifications of innocent people as malefactors) to the hilariously banal (a New York Times clarification that Gore Vidal had called William F. Buckley a “crypto-Nazi,” not a “crypto-fascist,” in their famous network television encounter in 1968). The British media seem to be over-represented in the list, though it’s unclear whether that’s because they make more mistakes or because they are more inclined to offer entertaining corrections or rationalizations.

My all-time favorite media error was the report by the Athens (GA) Banner-Herald on the election of John Paul II that he would be the “first non-Catholic” pontiff. But this year we did have a photo caption from the Ottawa Citizen with the surprising news that the Titantic had sunk on April 15, 2012.


Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • c u n d gulag on December 13, 2012 12:26 PM:

    Slightly OT, but I remember, back in the mid-80's a hilarious and misleading NY Post headline (this is shortly after Murderour-och bought it) about the trial involving Brooke Shields and the photographer who'd taken and published some nekked pictures he'd taken of her when she was young.

    The headline was, "TEEN NYMPHETTE BEARS ALL!!!" (With picture on page 7, or whatever).

    What horny heterosexual male could resist buying that copy?
    What person, scandalized by the idea of nekked pictures of a teenage girl, could possibly resist?

    I know I bought it!
    Only to find that the pictures were of her and the photographer she was suing, coming to court.

    After the NY Post's headline about the murder of 20 some odd people in a shooting at a McDonals in CA, entitled, "Big Mac Attack Kills 23!!! (or whatever the total in the carnage was)," did I stop buying the paper.

    THAT was the worst headline in the long history of bad headlines!

  • Gary Armstrong on December 13, 2012 12:27 PM:

    My regrets as well, Ed, for pointing out that you misspelled the name of the website publishing the corrections stories; it is Poynter, not Poytner...

    Love your stuff all the same.


    [I didn't catch it until you pointed (Poynted?) it out. Fixed now. --Mod]

  • Sgt. Gym Bunny on December 13, 2012 1:18 PM:

    Bah! The article didn't include a category for "Best Moments of Gullible GOP Politicians Who Took the Onion Seriously"...