CBS-affiliate WBTV Channel 3 made an on-air correction Dec. 3 after incorrectly reporting that evangelist Billy Graham died, according to Media Bistro’s TV Spy.
The Charlotte, North Carolina TV news station issued a correction within half an hour, TV Spy noted. The correction, said on air by anchor Kristen Miranda, reads:
“We got some bad news from CBS News this morning–some incorrect information that the Reverend Graham had passed away. We can tell you we’ve checked with Mission Hospital in Asheville and they tell us that is not true.”
According to CNN, Graham was admitted to an Asheville, N.C. hospital Nov. 30 for “evaluation and treatment of his lungs.”
The error occurred when a WBTV producer and director apparently mis-read a CBS network bulletin, according to the Charlotte Observer. WBTV’s news director Dennis Milligan explained to the Charlotte Observer that the WBTV staff member “saw what they thought was a bulletin on the CBS network feed to its affiliates announcing Graham’s death.” However, the local TV station found out that its report was inaccurate when it called Graham’s hospital for fact checking.
Milligan told the Charlotte Observer that “it was a mistake” to report Graham’s death without fact checking.
The Charlotte Observer noted that WBTV said it would air the correction again Dec. 3 and Dec. 4.
WBTV published its correction and statement on its Facebook page here. In part, the correction and apology notes that “Accuracy is the most important ingredient of any newscast. We at WBTV strive every day to make sure that the news we deliver is accurate, fair and useful to our viewers. Today we made an unfortunate mistake.”
WBTV added that it is “reviewing” how the error occurred. The statement is also published here on WBTV’s website.
We are writing to WBTV for more information and will update with any response.