D'oh! Funniest Media Gaffes of 2006

Regret the Error, a blog about media corrections has released its annual list of funniest mistakes, apologies, frauds, hoaxes, and embarrassments perpetrated by and on the self-styled arbiters of the truth.

Some of my favorites:

  • Reuters, the news agency that brought you the fraudulent photography of Adnan Hajj, also makes real mistakes. In an Oct. 25 story about bees, it mistakenly said that Queen Elizabeth has "10 times the life expectancy of workers and lays 2,000 eggs a day."
  • In the dubious sources category: "Don Spille -- A man who told the Tallahassee Democrat that he lost everything in Katrina – including his father. Ed Spille Sr., his father, later contacted the newspaper to disagree. 'I might be dead to him,' he said. 'At 80 years old, I’m dead to a lot of people.'"
  • A student newspaper at Purdue University had a real scoop about Supreme Court justice Samuel Alito during his nomination process: "His motive for shooting John Paul in the abdomen on May 13, 1981, remains unclear," the paper asserted in a caption of Alito being sworn in at a hearing.
  • The New York Times misspelled the name of a now-defunct department store, Gimbels, 120 times since 1980, turning the store's name into a possessive noun. Only in November of this year did the paper finally correct the errors.
  • The Boca Raton (Fla.) News, mistakenly reported that Vince McMahon, president of the fake wrestling league WWE, was getting divorced from his wife after the theme was used in an episode. It refused to correct its mistake.
  • Lost in translation at the Financial Times: "An item in the Observer column on March 14 reported that Ludwik Dorn, Poland's minister of the interior, had said some former police officers used the services of prostitutes. A more correct translation was that they had a 'wide social life.'"
  • The Cleveland Plain Dealer, in the ever helpful tradition of "service journalism" mistakenly told readers that five local post offices were remaining open until midnight on Tax Day, April 15th. The error caused about 400 people to miss the deadline. Fortunately for them, the Postal Service agreed to process their taxes as if they had filed in time.
  • Testifying in court can be dangerous to your reputation, apparently. At least it was in the case of a St. Louis psychologist, Richard Scott, who was referred to as the kidnapping and rape defendant who was the subject of his testimony.
  • Also noted are TV gaffes from the BBC inadvertently interviewing a taxi driver about a music industry lawsuit (see this NB post for details and video), and CNN anchor Kyra Phillips's famous bathroom break.
Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield, creator of NewsBusters and president of Dialog New Media, an internet marketing and design firm, left NewsBusters at the end of 2013