2011’s Most Embarrassing Correction

The year's most embarrassing correction goes to Newsweek's Howard Kurtz

By: Harry Jaffe

Newsweek's Howard Kurtz

The year isn’t over, but the award for 2011’s most embarrassing correction goes to Newsweek and its DC bureau chief, Howard Kurtz.

An October 2 Kurtz story quoted House minority leader Nancy Pelosi as saying “how poorly” the Obama White House does on message. She reportedly said: “They can’t see around corners; they anticipate nothing.” Problem is Pelosi never said such words. Newsweek retracted the quote, claiming it had been “erroneously attributed” to Pelosi.

The line was apparently included in a file written by reporter Lois Romano, who had interviewed Pelosi. Kurtz never interviewed Pelosi, and he mistook notes in the file as a quote. Newsweek writers are supposed to “read back” an article to the reporters who do the interview. Kurtz says, “One ball was unfortunately dropped when the read-backs were sent to the reporters.”

Winning the unofficial Correction of the Year was a tough competition—especially because Kurtz beat out a whopper by, well, Howard Kurtz. In January, he belatedly issued a correction of an article from November 2010 in which he reported a phone conversation he’d had with Congressman Darrell Issa. Only Kurtz had the conversation with Kurt Bardella, at the time Issa’s spokesman. Kurtz never spoke to Issa.

Strike two?

This article appears in the November 2011 issue of The Washingtonian.