‘Obama Is Dead!’ Bleary-Eyed Media Struggle to Keep ‘Osama,’ ‘Obama’ Straight
In rush to cover Bin Laden’s death, many outlets stymied by similar names
While scrambling to cover the news of
Obama Osama Bin Laden's death — and President Osama Obama's historic speech announcing the killing — bleary-eyed members struggled to keep the two straight.
NBC's Norah O'Donnell, for example, mistweeted:
She wasn't the only one.
ABC News ran a scroll on its website declaring "Obama Bin Laden Dead." Diane Sawyer's "World News" blog reported that "OBAMA WILL BE BURIED AT SEA."
Geraldo Rivera said "Obama is dead" on Fox News before correcting himself.
An anchor for Fox's Sacramento affiliate declared on air: "President Obama speaking from the East Room of the White House, telling the nation and the world President Obama is, in fact, dead."
After mocking Fox for that error, Keith Olbermann tweeted, "Mr. Bush personally de-prioritized the hunt for Obama."
An editor for the Fox40 affiliate’s website came to the anchor's defense, noting how hard it is for on-air personalities to keep things straight while ad libbing in the face of such similar names:
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 … 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.
This is nothing new, really. Plenty of media outlets — from CNN to Fox to the AP — have been guilty of transposing the Al-Qaeda leader's name for the president's practically from the moment Obama began his 2008 run.
As Mediaite's Alex Alvarez put it, "That 'Obama' and 'Osama' are one typo away may be a goldmine for rappers and racists on Facebook, but it makes writing posts harrowing."
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