Early Saturday morning Charlotte CBS-affiliate WBTV mistakenly reported that Billy Graham had died. About a half hour later, the station retracted the report, blaming it on “some incorrect information” received from CBS News.
WBTV news director Dennis Milligan posted a statement on the station’s website following the mix-up. Here’s what happened, according to Milligan:
On Saturday during its early morning newscast, WBTV News mistakenly reported the passing of the Rev. Billy Graham. Our show producer read what he thought was a breaking news crawl about Rev. Graham on an off- air network feed.
He made the decision to air the information without checking it first. That was a mistake.
Within minutes, other staff members contacted the hospital where Rev. Graham is being treated, to find out that he is doing well in his recovery from pneumonia.
We made an on-air correction immediately.
Accuracy is the most important ingredient of any newscast. We at WBTV strive every day to make sure that the news we deliver is accurate, fair and useful to our viewers.
Today we made an unfortunate mistake.
We apologize to Rev. Graham, his family, the staff of Mission Hospital in Asheville where he is being treated and most of all our viewers.
We will be reviewing exactly what happened and we will take steps to make sure that it does not happen again.