Hours after Hillary Clinton apparently collapsed abruptly exiting the 9/11 ceremony, WABC-TV hit the air for its 6 p.m. newscast. Instead of leading with the pneumonia diagnosis, anchor Joe Torres told viewers about the “death” of the Democratic candidate for president.
Channel 7 spokesman Jim Gorham says, “During a live introduction to a story about the health of Hillary Clinton, Joe Torres inadvertently said “death” when he meant to say “health.”
That’s fine, but a mistake of that magnitude should have been caught immediately by Torres, if not anyone else in the studio or control room.
However, the spokesman says there was no apology because it was “clear from the context of the story, the reporters’ information and graphics on the screen that Secretary Clinton was alive and recovering.”
Actually, that’s not completely true.
As the newscast starts Torres and co-anchor Sandra Bookman are seen on screen with just a “Breaking News” graphic beneath them, while Torres utters the dramatic words, “We begin with the breaking news on Hillary Clinton’s death.”
This isn’t new ground—in 1999 while Joe DiMaggio was close to death, WNBC ran a graphic that he died. And the perpetually deceased Abe Vigoda caused some confusion for a WWOR reporter in 1987, calling him the “late Abe Vigoda.” A correction was offered the next night.
Even though accidental, this is on a whole other level as we count down the weeks until Election Day.