January 30, 2012

Near the end of her Thursday night show, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow issued an on-air correction for a mistake made the night before.

It seems that she mentioned a CBS poll about the State of the Union speech that indicated viewers had a very positive reaction to it. The problem: it was a poll of last year’s SOTU. Here’s the transcript of her describing the mistake and offering a correction:

MADDOW: Correction. Last night, we used this CBS news poll when talking about reaction to the president’s State of the Union speech. It shows, obviously, a very positive reaction to that speech. So far, so true.

What we know about polled reaction to the president’s speech this year was very positive and that CBS poll did gauge reaction to President Obama’s State of the Union.

However, that CBS poll gauged reaction to last year’s speech, not this year’s. The year on the dateline posted at the CBS Web site was easy to overlook. For whatever reason, this particular CBS poll befuddled everybody left, right and center yesterday. The Raw Story, the conservative Web site, Hot Air, the widely read Political Wire blog, which is right down the middle, and not to mention lots of TV shows, including this one — all used it as if it was reaction to the 2012 speech when it was actually reaction to the 2011 one.

Of course, it is cold comfort to us that other people made the same mistake that we did. Bottom line is we screwed it up, too. It was our mistake and I very much regret the error.

See, I think that’s what you’re supposed to do when you screw up. You say you were wrong. You say you’re sorry. You fix it. It is no fun, but it is simple to do.

Watch the correction here. (Update: I previously tried to embed the segment, but it doesn’t seem to be working.)

The Left Call also reports that MSNBC programs “The Ed Show” and “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” also used the poll incorrectly. (The Ed Show transcript for Friday is not yet online, so I don’t know if they issued a correction. I was also unable to locate a correction on the Last Word’s site.)

Here’s the Raw Story correction:

Due to an internal error, Raw Story published this piece after Obama’s third State of the Union in 2012. This poll was actually conducted about the 2011 State of the Union. We apologize for the error.

And one from The Moderate Voice:

We ran a post before on a CBS News story we picked off of a highly reliable and must-read site that aggregates news stories and blog posts but it turned out to be a year old. We regret the error. When we get a new news story with polling that is properly dated we’ll run it. We weren’t the only website to run this old story and not realize it was old — but we don’t intend to make the same error again.

Correction: This post originally stated that Maddow’s correction aired on her Friday show. It in fact aired on Thursday.

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Craig Silverman (craig@craigsilverman.ca) is an award-winning journalist and the founder of Regret the Error, a blog that reports on media errors and corrections, and trends…
Craig Silverman

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