Osama v. Obama: Mistake Strikes Networks, Stations

Osama Bin Laden is dead, but on countless Twitter feeds, TV graphics, and even from some poor television anchors, the news came out like this:  “Obama Bin Laden Is Dead.” 

One news anchor in D.C. even said, “…the President, telling the nation President Obama is in fact dead.”  He, of course, immediately corrected himself saying, “I’m sorry… Osama Bin Laden is dead.” Both CNN and FOX News made the mistake of saying Obama when they meant Osama. According to what people posted on Twitter, ABC News posted it on their website… twice.180971640-01224512


Even the Modesto Bee tweeted, “How did @modbee readers react to news of Obama’s death?”

Some readers immediately accused the media of purposely equating the president’s name to that of a now deceased terrorist, but really it’s a combination of dyslexia, over-exuberance to get the news out, and the surprise twist in the news itself this evening.  The original breaking news on Sunday night was “President Obama to Make National Security Announcement.”  When it became “Obama to Discuss Osama” it just got confusing.

Add to this the fact that many lower-third graphics, also called “CG”s are in all caps, and OBAMA and OSAMA look very similar on a small control room monitor.   Additionally, for TV anchors reading off a TelePrompTer, the words are always in ALL CAPS, and scripts looked something like this, “TOSS TO OBAMA BRIEFING” and “OSAMA BIN LADEN IS CONFIRMED DEAD.”  One final thing made it even harder to get it right: anchors had to ad lib for half an hour or more as they waited for the Obama news conference, which was delayed repeatedly after being scheduled for just before 8 p.m.  As they ad libbed longer and longer into the night, they became tongue tied.

FOX40 also briefly had a graphic up with the wrong name.  The original graphic talked about “OBAMA NATIONAL SECURITY ANNOUNCEMENT” and the B remained when it was changed to “OSAMA BIN LADEN.”  Station management apologized for the error, as did the network anchors.



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