NEW YORK – Yesterday, Fox News erroneously reported that Nelson Mandela—who is currently in critical condition after suffering a recurring lung infection—had died in a Pretoria hospital. The network quickly corrected the mistake, but executives are nonetheless boasting that they were “on the story first,” and are celebrating their triumph over cable-news rivals MSNBC and CNN.
An internal Fox News memo obtained by Newslo shows that network executives are encouraging their employees to take pride in their accomplishment. “This was one of the biggest stories of the year,” the memo, written by Fox News president Roger Ailes, reads in part. “And you should all be proud that OURS was the network that broke the scoop. Don’t let anyone tell you that this isn’t a HUGE deal just because Mandela isn’t actually dead.”
“Even if he lives another twenty years, we’ll always have those fifteen minutes of boosted ratings we earned by reporting his death,” Ailes continues. “Nobody can take those away from us.”
According to Jacob Barry, professor of media studies at NYU, this isn’t the first time an incident like this has occurred. “Last year, both Fox and CNN reported that the Supreme Court had ruled ObamaCare [i.e. the Affordable Care Act] unconstitutional, which, of course, was the exact opposite of the truth,” Barry told Newslo. “Back in 2003, [Fox News anchor] Shepard Smith incorrectly announced the death of Pope John Paul II. Oh, and one time CNN.com accidentally published a pre-written obituary for Nelson Mandela. The list goes on and on. Don’t even get me started on all the Boston Marathon reports that turned out to be bullshit.”
“The guiding ethos seems to be: Better to be first than be right,” Barry said.
“It’s really exciting,” said Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly. “Breaking stories is why I got into this business. Actually, breaking stories first is why I got into this business. People always talk about ‘accuracy’ and ‘journalistic standards,’ but these days, you can’t wait for something to actually happen before reporting it. Otherwise, someone else might beat you to it by a few seconds.”