Washington, D.C. CBS-affiliate wrongly accused a man running for a local neighborhood organization of embezzlement.
The next day, WUSA retracted its reporting and said its error was because the station mixed up the embezzler and the candidate. They are father and son, according to the retraction.
The original WUSA story has been unpublished, but iMediaEthics found a cache. The story, “DC politician who embezzled money in 2011 on ballot again,” by Delia Gonclaves, reported that William C. Shelton was jailed for “embezzling nearly $30,000 from the ANC 5B bank account” and was running for office this year as W. Cardell Shelton for ANC 8C05.
ANC stands for Advisory Neighborhood Commission. See on the ANC website the map for the 8C ward.
But William C. Shelton, who was convicted in 2012 for embezzlement, is in his 40s. W. Cardell Shelton isn’t the embezzler using a different name — it’s his father, who is in his 80s.
When asked for comment about the error, the executive director for the Office of Advisory Neighborhood Commissions, Gottlieb Simon, told iMediaEthics by e-mail:
“Similar sounding names? The son’s name is William Shelton and he was an ANC Commissioner in Ward 5. His father is Cardell Shelton and was previously a Ward 8 ANC Commissioner. It is rather unfortunate that this mistake was made.”
The Nov. 4 correction reads:
“WASHINGTON (WUSA9) — On November 3, 2014, WUSA9 reported that a former DC politician who was jailed for embezzling money from the ANC is back on the ballot running under a different name in a different ward.
“We have since learned that the candidate is not the same man who was jailed. Instead, the candidate is the man’s father. Both men have similar sounding names.
“Eighty-four-year-old W. Cardell Shelton is the man who ran against Brenda Shields in the ANC 8C-05 race. WUSA9 regrets the error.”
The reporter, Gonclaves, also tweeted an apology.
My regrets: 84 y/o W. Cardell Shelton is running against Brenda Shields in ANC8C05 NOT former commissioner who was jailed for embezzling $
— Delia Gonçalves (@9NewsDelia) November 4, 2014
In 2011, WUSA apologized after lifting paragraphs from the Washington Post.
iMediaEthics has reached out to WUSA news director Bill Lord for more information.
Hat Tip: Jeremy Barr