The Chicago Tribune famously published a premature headline declaring Thomas Dewey the winner of the 1948 election over Harry Truman, which you may recognize as a thing that didn't happen. Amazingly, the news media does stuff like this all the time, because just like any other profession in the world, the news is full of clumsy assholes.
Newspapers keep regularly updated "obituary drafts" of famous people who look like they might drop dead at any moment so they can be the first to break the story when it happens. Please note that "fame" and "relevance" do not always share a taxi, so many of these obits boil down to "Hey, remember this guy? Well he's dead."
Occasionally, the obituary drafts get published by mistake. The Associated Press released one for comedian Bob Hope, declaring him dead five years before it actually happened (to be fair, Bob Hope's jokes had been dead for centuries). Bloomberg ran a 17-page obituary for Steve Jobs in 2008 (Jobs didn't pass away until 2011), which seems a little excessive, considering that it rivals the length of the New York Times obituary for Gandhi, a person who arguably did more noteworthy things than make toys for rich people.
Keystone-France / Getty
And who unarguably had a better chest.
Announcing that someone is dead when they are actually alive is bad, but reporting that a person is still alive when they've been reclaimed by eternity is way worse.
In this vein, we'd like to announce that Abraham Lincoln has spent the last 147 years hiding out as a street sweeper in Duluth.
In 2006, dozens of newspapers and websites ran front-page stories declaring that the miners trapped in the Sago Mine disaster in West Virginia had been rescued, when in reality all but one of them had been killed.
The story was already national news by that point, and families of the "survivors" had gathered at a local church to celebrate and await the return of their loved ones. This is like telling a child to wait up for Santa, and then explaining St. Nick's absence the next morning by saying that he fell down the chimney and broke his neck.
Arguably worse, in 1912, The Christian Science Monitor (today a renowned and multiple Pulitzer Prize winning publication) printed an article claiming that the Titanic had been rescued by a tow ship and everyone on board had survived, when all but a handful of passengers and a Kate Winslet balloon animal had drowned.
"Shiftless young man undresses, abandons wealthy socialite."
CNN and Fox News dooked up one of the biggest stories of the year when they announced that the Supreme Court had overturned the "individual mandate" portion of the Affordable Care Act, effectively defeating the bill. This is like being given a jet pack but told that you must pay for it with infant bones.
Tom Williams / Getty
Worth it, but horrible.
Except the Supreme Court had done no such thing. They had merely begun discussing the possibility of it being overturned, which sent the two news giants sprinting to the airwaves and the Internet like 6-year-olds in a race to tell on each other:
Both networks corrected the error within minutes, but "minutes" is "forever" in Internet time.
Mere hours after the polls closed and news agencies began calling the 2012 election for Barack Obama, it seemed like Mitt Romney's time in the spotlight was over.
Emmanuel Dunand / Getty
Soul Asylum's "Runaway Train" is playing in his mind.
But apparently no one told the interns running his website, because for at least a few minutes on the night of November 6, Romney's campaign page briefly turned into a deafening victory scream, declaring him president-elect and outlining his inauguration plans like a glimpse of some alternate Ray Bradbury future brought on by a time traveler buttfucking a dinosaur and changing the course of history.
Romney for President, Inc
At least the inauguration date is still accurate.
The page was quickly deleted, but the Internet is like a newspaper-hoarding schizophrenic -- once you give it something, it keeps it forever.
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