Reuters published a story on Thursday that looked at the “unlikely” vice presidential prospects of Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio.
The headline said “Florida’s Rubio a star, but an unlikely VP pick” for the GOP nominee’s running mate. The story is now garnering attention because it contained at least five factual errors, some of which included incorrect statements about Rubio’s financial situation.
Former Reuters staffer and current Washington Examiner senior editorial writer Philip Klein called it a “hit piece,” and Daily Caller was early to spot problems with the reporting. Politico’s Dylan Byers has also been on the story, and notes that Reuters is not talking publicly about what happened:
One senior staffer at Reuters described the episode to me as a “fiasco,” another as a “disgrace.”
It was so bad, in fact, that the editors and writer involved have been asked not to talk about it. (I reached out to editors David Lindsey and Eric Walsh, but have not heard back.)
… But after pressure from the Rubio staff, Reuters was forced to issue corrections that quickly became a larger talking point than the article itself.
Byers also quoted Rubio spokesman Alex Conant, who said ”It was unfortunate that a story was posted with so much bad information. But [Reuters'] quick response was appreciated.”
A correction has been added to the story, but one thing to note is Reuters’ correction style isn’t well-suited to public consumption, as it’s more to geared towards the company’s newswire clients. As a result, the Rubio correction reads more like a list, offering no context or acknowledgement that the story suffered from serious problems. But at least you can see the errors that had to be fixed. The correction (see bottom of story):
(Removes words “and at times has had difficulty paying his mortgage,” paragraph 7; removes “he did not make payments on a $100,000-plus student loan” and instead states “he did not pay down the balance of a $100,000-plus student loan,” paragraph 10; removes “he was caught up in an Internal Revenue Service Investigation” and instead states “his name surfaced in an Internal Revenue Service investigation,” paragraph 12; removes “voted against Sonia Sotomayor, Obama’s Supreme Court nominee” and instead states “opposed President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nomination of Sonia Sotomayor,” paragraph 41; removes “voted against Obama’s healthcare overhaul” and instead states “opposed Obama’s healthcare overhaul,” paragraph 41)