Freudian typo of the year (nominee)

Last time I checked, there are about 1.3 billion Roman Catholics in this world.

That’s an important statistic, but I am not sure that it tells us much about the financial health of Christendom’s largest flock.

Financial health? Say what?

There are plenty of cynical people who believe that when religious leaders look at their flocks, all they see is dollar signs. Thus, 1.3 billion Catholics equals a lot of money in offering plates. You get the picture.

However, I have never seen this concept advocated in such a naked fashion as in the transcript of this recent PBS report that ran under the headline “Catholic Church Looks to Lead Conversation on Combating HIV/AIDS.”

Scan this quickly and see if you see what I saw (after, yes, a tip from a reader):

JUDY WOODRUFF: Ray, since we know that the pope is neither a physician, nor someone who holds a government position connected to health, why is what he is saying in this area of HIV transmission getting so much attention?

RAY SUAREZ: Judy, there’s a massive audience for whatever the Catholic Church teaches in this regard, because you have to remember that, with over $1 billion members around the world, one out of every six people on planet Earth is a Catholic.

And the Catholic Church has been very hard at work in the hardest-hit countries in the world when it’s come to the scourge of HIV and AIDS. There are, in fact, 117,000 Catholic medical facilities, from clinics in the deepest jungle to large urban hospitals in the developing world, that are involved in treating both people that are already infected with AIDS and trying to prevent the transmission to at-risk populations.

OK, OK, it’s a typo. I know that.

Somewhere in the next day or two or three, there is almost certainly going to be a PBS news intern who says “oops,” once someone in the public broadcasting matrix sees that wayward dollar sign.

This is proof, I guess, that — when sitting in an office inside the DC Beltway — it’s hard to type the word “billion” without, by reflex, hitting the key that says “$.”

Correction please!

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • Dave G.

    If this is a transcript, wouldn’t that mean that folks won’t see it anyway? I mean, it will be a show, not a written report. Why focus on this? What jumped out at me was the fact that the good the Church is doing to combat HIV/AIDS was being mentioned. Usually the pop-narrative is that the Church is willing to let AIDS victims die by the bus load in order to keep its precious teachings intact. This let another side be mentioned. Which was nice. But the typo? No big deal. It was a typo.

  • Dave

    sitting in an office inside the DC Beltway — it’s hard to type the word “billion” without, by reflex, hitting the key that says “$.”

    I suspect that’s it.

  • Sjmatt

    Perhaps it’s just me, but what I noticed wasn’t the dollar sign but the lowercase ‘pope.’ There’s just the one, right? And it’s an official title… so that’s “Pope” to you ‘pbs’.

  • Robert King

    @Dave G. – The transcript appears on the same page with the video, so it’s essentially part of the same report.

    @Sjmatt – I don’t know what the AP Stylebook says about “Pope/pope”, but the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church also uses the title “Pope,” as does the Greek Orthodox bishop of Alexandria. I believe other bishops have historically used the title, and that the title was not intended at those times to imply anything exclusive or unique. Merely “Father” in a superlative sense. History and ecumenical usage aside, though, I think the relevant authority is the AP Stylebook.

  • Dave G.


    In any event, it was a typo. A typo on a manuscript from a video. I just thought there were more interesting points within the text itself, than an obvious typing mistake.

  • Suzanne

    AP Stylebook on pope: “Captialize when used as a formal title before a name; lowercase in all other uses.”