Fox News and NBC both reported today that the longest-serving Republican in the House, Florida Congressman Bill Young, had died at the age of 82. However, both agencies retracted their reports after Young’s office revealed that while Young is “gravely ill,” he’s also most certainly alive.
“U.S. Rep. C. W. Bill Young's condition turned for the worse over night and he is gravely ill,” said Young’s chief of staff, Harry Glen. “His doctors say his prognosis is guarded."
It's unclear with what ailment Young is afflicted.
The mistaken report seems to have originated on Twitter, where a Florida blogger named Peter Schorsch said that one of Young’s family members had confirmed the congressman’s death to Schorsch. It was soon picked up by Fox News’s Gretchen Carlson, who reported the death in a breaking news alert, as well as NBC’s Luke Russert. Both later apologized for the mistake.
“All right, I’m really sorry to report that earlier, we did report that Congressman Bill Young had passed away. We are now told that is not the case and we of course sincerely apologize for that error," Carlson said. "Hopefully that won’t happen again.”
The apology marks a drastically different approach toward bad reporting than Fox has shown in the past: Last year, when the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act, Fox and CNN both incorrectly reported that the court had gutted the law. When the full ruling was released, CNN apologized, but Fox, audaciously, refused to do so.