Media Mistakes in the Biden Era: The Definitive List
21. Thursday Aug. 12, 2021
The Texas Tribune “overstated” the number of children hospitalized in Texas with Covid-19 by a factor of more than 40 times. The article initially claimed more than 5,800 children had been hospitalized during a seven-day period in August. However, the true number was about 142 children in a week.
When the Texas Tribune corrected the story, it did not provide the correct number for the seven-day August time period during which it initially claimed 5,800 child Covid-19 hospitalizations. Instead, the newspaper gave a corrected total that spanned a period of five-and-a-half weeks: 783 children between July 1 and Aug. 9.
As an aside, while Covid-19 is grabbing the headlines, it was actually a different virus that was filling up more of those Texas ICU beds, according to the article: an unseasonable outbreak of respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV: “a highly contagious virus that can require hospitalization mostly among children… Within Texas Children’s, more than 45 children were hospitalized with COVID-19 on Wednesday, and hospital staff members have diagnosed over 1,600 cases of RSV.”
20. Thursday Aug. 12, 2021
Web MD, USA Today, and others falsely called the 2020 Sturgis, South Dakota Motorcycle Rally a Covid “Super Spreader” event. Dr. Anthony Fauci had furthered the false narrative on Meet the Press. But the “Super Spreader” claims about the event were false. Data analysis after the rally showed that didn’t even have close to the national average of cases associated with it, and especially not the quarter million that some original claimed. Additionally, it was shown that many media reports used photos of a previous year’s rally, misrepresenting and misdating those photos as if they were taken during the pandemic.
19. Sunday August 8, 2021
USA Today‘s Gabe Lacques, ESPN, The Denver Post, The Washington Post, Associated Press (AP), the New York Post, and other publications reported, as if true without attribution, that a fan shouted a racial slur at a Miami Marlins player. However, ani investigation revealed what many had said from the start: the fan was yelling the name of the Rockies team mascot, and that racist-minded observers mistook that for “the N-word.”
As of a week later, uncorrected headlines and/or with the false information remained accessible online (see below).
18. Monday July 26, 2021
The Associated Press corrected a story that falsely claimed CDC had released guidance in May stating that unvaccinated people don’t have to wear masks indoors. “The story should have said the CDC guidance released in May was that those who are vaccinated don’t have to wear masks indoors.”
17. Saturday July 24, 2021
The Associated press corrected a story published July 24, 2021 that false claimed Florida had changed to weekly reporting on Covid-19 cases earlier in the month. Florida actually implemented the change a month before, in early June.
16. Monday July 19, 2021
The Associated Press corrected a story that falsely claimed a supposed decision not to prosecute former Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross was made by the Department of Justice under the Biden administration. AP later said it was under the Trump administration.
15. Wednesday June 2, 2021
The Washington Post joins a cacophony of other media in finally correcting their false reporting that incorrectly claimed, early and often, that the Covid-19 “lab theory” was a “debunked” “conspiracy theory.”
14. Tuesday May 17, 2021
The Poynter Institute retracted a September 2020 Politifact fact check about a statement by Li-Meng Yan that falsely claimed, among other assertions: The genetic structure of the novel coronavirus rules out laboratory manipulation.
Many authorities have said that is not now and has never been the case. In light of growing recognition of that fact, Politifact added the following Editor’s Note to the original fact check:
When this fact-check was first published in September 2020, PolitiFact’s sources included researchers who asserted the SARS-CoV-2 virus could not have been manipulated. That assertion is now more widely disputed. For that reason, we are removing this fact-check from our database pending a more thorough review. Currently, we consider the claim to be unsupported by evidence and in dispute. The original fact-check in its entirety is preserved below for transparency and archival purposes.
13. Wednesday May 11, 2021
As people waited in long lines for gas, and even as the New York Times showed images of long lines in its news coverage, the newspaper claimed in a Tweet that “there have been no long lines.”
Additionally, the same day the Tweet claimed no “major price hikes” consumers documented major price hikes, up to $9.99/gallon, prompting President Biden to warn against gouging.
12. Saturday May 1, 2021
The New York Times, Washington Post and NBC News corrected their false reporting about Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani. The articles all claimed Giuliani and/or One America News had received a “former warning from the FBI about Russian disinformation” prior to 2019 political scandals involving the U.S., Russia and Ukraine. Giuliani and One America News did not receive such so-called “defensive briefings,” after all.
The false New York Times article was written by William K. Rashbaum, Ben Protess, Maggie Haberman and Kenneth P. Vogel. Haberman and Vogel are repeat offenders on anti-Trump media mistake lists.
The false Washington Post article was written by Ellen Nakashima, Shane Harris, and Tom Hamburger.
And Ken Dilanian is on the error list again, at NBC News.
11. Friday April 30, 2021
NPR, like many in the media, reported (as if it as somehow confirmed firsthand) that “President Donald Trump’s… allegations of election rigging and widespread voter fraud” are “false.” Instead, the reports should or could accurately say that NPR and other news outlets have not uncovered evidence of widespread voter fraud; yet, there is no indication any outlets conducted a widespread firsthand investigation to find or eliminate fraud.
NPR also called the media outlet “Newsmax” “far right”– when it is not. If NPR inserts such opinions and attacks in its news reporting, it should label them as opinions, or attribute them to a source, rather than claiming them to be fact.
10. Friday April 30, 2021
Newsmax corrected its 2020 election fraud reporting and apologized to Eric Coomer, director of product strategy and security for Dominion Voting Systems.
“Newsmax has found no evidence that Dr. Coomer interfered with Dominion voting machines or voting software in any way, nor that Dr. Coomer ever claimed to have done so…Nor has Newsmax found any evidence that Dr. Coomer ever participated in any conversation with members of ‘Antifa,’ nor that he was directly involved with any partisan political organization,” said Newsmax in a statement.
9. Tuesday April 27, 2021
A Politico article by with three bylines, EUGENE DANIELS, KRYSTAL CAMPOS and MICHAEL CADENHEAD, wrongly stated that Rep. Byron Donalds was “Florida’s first-ever Black Republican in Congress.”
In fact, he is third.
A correction added to the article didn’t explain how the basic research impacting the very premise of the article wasn’t done prior to publication.
8. Tuesday April 27, 2021
New York Post reporter Laura Italiano resigns after saying she was pressed to write an incorrect article claiming a book written by Vice President Kamala Harris was being distributed to children who illegally crossed the border into the U.S.
A correction to the Post article noted: “The original version of this article said migrant kids were getting Harris’ book in a welcome kit but has been updated to note that only one known copy of the book was given to a child.”
7. Monday April 26, 2021
Fox News corrects an earlier report that “incorrectly implied” a calculus involving Americans eating less red meat was part of “Biden’s plan for dealing with climate change.”
“That is not the case,” says Fox News.
6. Sunday, April 4, 2021
CBS’ 60 Minutes is accused of selectively editing a segment with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, in a story that implied he is guilty of “pay-for-play,” linking a campaign donation from Publix grocery stores to the selection of Publix as a major Covid-19 vaccine distribution center. Numerous media outlets picked up the narrative.
After the segment, numerous Democrat political figures in Florida confirmed that, contrary to the implication in the report, Publix was recommended by other state agencies rather than the governor’s office.
Gov. Ron DeSantis answers a question from Sharyn Alfonsi of CBS’ 60 Minutes
Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Jared Moskowitz, a Democrat, tweeted, “I said this before and I’ll say it again. [Publix] was recommended by [Florida Division of Emergency Management] and [Florida Department of Public Health]. Period! Full stop!…No one from the Governors office suggested Publix…It’s just absolute malarkey.”
In remarks edited out of the 60 Minutes story, DeSantis also had explained that other stores were actually chosen for earlier vaccine distribution jobs before Publix.
Palm Beach County Mayor Dave Kerner, a Democrat, accused 60 Minutes of reporting “intentionally false” information, saying that the TV program knew the county– not the governor’s office– had been the one to request “to expand the state’s partnership with Publix” to help get more of the county’s elderly vaccinated.
5. Thursday, April 1, 2021
NPR corrects its book review by senior editor and correspondent on the Washington Desk Ron Elving that falsely claimed U.S. intelligence had discredited the story of the FBI obtaining and investigating material on Hunter Biden’s laptop.
4. Wednesday, March 31, 2021
The Atlanta Journal Constitution falsely reports that Georgia’s new voting integrity law would “limit voting hours.”
A later correction acknowledged “nothing in the law changes” the hours: 7am to 7pm. It also pointed out that “experts say the net effect was to expand the opportunities to vote for most Georgians, not limit them.”
3. Monday, Jan. 18, 2021
AP incorrectly reports that 200,000 small flags were placed on the National Mall to honor Americans killed by Covid-19.
But the flags represented people who couldn’t come to the inauguration, not COVID deaths.
2. Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021
The Washington Post‘s Amy Gardner, AP, CNBC, Rolling Stone, and others falsely report that President Trump pressed a lead Georgia elections investigator to “find the fraud,” and told the investigator it would make them a national hero.
However, the actual recording of the call later made public revealed that Trump did not say either of those things.
1. Friday, Jan. 8, 2021
The New York Times reporters Marc Santora, Megan Specia and Mike Baker report Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick was killed by “pro-Trump supporters” who “overpowered” him and “struck him in the head with a fire extinguisher.”
But other reports the same day referenced Sicknick dying from a stroke.
The Times waited until mid-February to issue a correction, but still claimed– citing no evidence and no autopsy report– that Sicknick had died “from injuries in pro-Trump rampage.”
There was no explanation as to who fabricated the fire extinguisher story.
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