The death of Osama bin Laden gave some in the news media the opportunity to commit a pretty embarrassing, but fairly common gaffe: Mixing-up the names Osama and Obama.
A Fox 5 News anchor in Washington, D.C. got half of the story right when he said this after the president’s speech: “President Obama ... telling the nation and the world President Obama is in fact dead,” The anchor quickly corrected himself, but the clip will live on in YouTube infamy. Another Fox affiliate, this one in Sacramento, had the sentence “Obama Bin Laden Dead” scrolling during last night’s telecast.
While discussing the possible ways bin Laden could have been killed, Fox News’s Geraldo Rivera said, “Obama’s dead. I don’t care. Osama bin Laden is dead. I don’t get how he died.”
MSNBC correspondent Norah O’Donnell made the mixup on Twitter, showing that you can make this gaffe in less than 140 characters: “Obama shot and killed per @JimMiklaszewski.” It seems the tweet has been deleted, but you can see a screen grab here.
While praising President Obama in an unusual and seemingly sincere broadcast, conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh made the mix-up at least two times.
The Washington Post made this mix-up as well in today’s print edition of the paper. The error was corrected online.
As NY Magazine’s Vulture blog points out, people in the media have been mixing-up the names Osama and Obama since the president first entered the political scene. One AP reporter made the gaffe in 2008 to then Sen. Obama’s face, a mistake the president quickly corrected.