I’m sure this refers to an editorial article and a not a news article, but this correction in the Los Angeles Times is funny.

For the record
Religion and government: A Dec. 18 article defending the separation of church and state stated that the Rev. Jerry Falwell claimed that Ellen DeGeneres played a role in the 9/11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina because she was the host of the Emmy Awards before both events. He made no such claim.

lettermanPerhaps the Los Angeles Times copyediting desk was confused. Falwell did blame David Letterman for his disastrous stint hosting the Oscars in 1998:

“I like Letterman as an interviewer, but what made him think that an extended montage of various celebrities saying ‘Would you like to buy a monkey?’ would be funny?” he asked. “No one saw, let alone remembers, Cabin Boy. A vengeful God could not restrain himself from unleashing devastation on a wicked people who tolerated such poor judgment from their second-highest-rated nighttime talk-show host.”

When asked why it took seven years for God to expres his displeasure, Falwell explained that “Seven years is but a minute in God years.”

In all seriousness, though, I like how this Times correction illuminates how we tend to see the worst in those we disagree with and find it easy to believe really extreme things about them. It’s good for reporters, editors and readers to step back and look at the real nature of disagreements and discuss them civilly. Also, high-profile figures tend to say wacky enough things on their own. The Los Angeles Times need not invent them.

Print Friendly

  • http://auspiciousdragon.com holmegm

    Yes; one doesn’t have to like Falwell to ask – how is that a mere error, as opposed to an absurd slander?

    Here, I’ll do some “reporting” …

    “U2′s Bono said that he eats cuddly kittens for lunch”

    Oops, no he didn’t … that was just a statistically improbable “typo” above.

  • http://blogs.salon.com/0003494/ Bartholomew

    This is indeed a shocking slander, for two reasons:

    1. Falwell in fact said lesbians in general caused 9/11, helped by abortionists, feminists, pagans, and the ACLU. But I suppose he did apologise later, when it all backfired against him.

    2. The Times quote actually originated with Pat Robertson.

    (I’ve got the refs)

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mollie


    Always a good idea to check with Snopes before you post your “refs.”

    Here’s Snopes explaining that the claim that Pat Robertson blamed hurricane Katrina on Ellen Degeneres is a hoax.

    And for future reference, the “Dateline Hollywood” site you link to for proof is a satire site.

  • http://blogs.salon.com/0003494/ Bartholomew

    Always a good idea to check with Snopes.

    Wise words indeed – thanks.