We see a lot of accusations of Fake News flying around these days, with the term being more accurate in some cases than others. This past week, however, a reporter with the Washington Post made the mistake of tossing out a “fact” involving UN Ambassador Nikki Haley which turned out to be not only false but caught Haley’s attention personally. As the Daily Caller revealed, Washington Post policy reporter Jeff Stein coauthored an article on the government safety net in which he claimed that Haley said there were only 250,000 Americans living in poverty.
The Washington Post issued a correction for misquoting U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Friday.
Haley demanded on Saturday that Washington Post policy reporter Jeff Stein “retract” his claim that she said there were 250,000 U.S. citizens living in poverty.
Stein and fellow Washington Post reporter Tracy Jan wrote a story titled “The Trump administration has a new argument for dismantling the social safety net: It worked” on Friday. Stein tweeted the 250,000 figure, which Haley says she “never said”, with a link to his story on Friday.
Since the Ambassador had never said any such thing, she took to Twitter calling for a correction.
Unfortunate when a reporter doesn’t follow through and I have to do this:@JStein_WaPo I never said this. My team has asked you to retract this and take down your tweets. I am now respectfully asking that you follow through with what you told my team you would do. Thank you.
— Archive: Ambassador Nikki Haley (@AmbNikkiHaley) July 14, 2018
Stein then attempted a “correction” by tweeting that what Nikki Haley had actually said was, “extreme poverty.” That didn’t go over very well either since it was never a question of leaving a word out of the quote. The quote itself had never been said. In fact, the original figure had been put out in a report by the Permanent Mission of the United States to the United Nations and International Organizations. Still, the Washington Post only managed to make a series of corrections without changing the original numbers or removing Haley’s name.
It was only hours later when Stein finally deleted the original tweet, posted an admission, and the WaPo finally added this correction:
“Correction: An earlier version of this story misattributed a statement to Nikki Haley, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, that no more than 250,000 Americans are in ‘extreme poverty,’” said the correction notice.
As with most of these cases, the original tweet with the Fake News received significantly more play than the correction, but at least the change was made. That does leave you to wonder, however, how many times this happens and either the maligned subject of the story doesn’t hear about it or doesn’t bother to pursue it enough to force a correction. At that point, it just drops down the memory hole and enters the internet record as a “fact” despite being fiction.
I suppose if there’s one lesson to take away here it’s that Nikki Haley is the wrong person to try it on. And just to annoy roughly 33% of the country to intolerable levels I’ll close with one final observation:
She’s going to make an awesome president.