Bush spokesman apologizes for sending statement on Nelson Mandela

September 1, 2013

A spokesman for former president George H.W. Bush mistakenly sent a statement on the death of Nelson Mandela on Sunday morning based on reports by The Washington Post that the former South African president has been discharged from a hospital.

Jim McGrath, a spokesman for the former president, said he awoke Sunday morning to see an e-mail alert from The Post regarding Mandela's discharge from a South African hospital and misread the word "discharge." Thinking that he was at least three hours behind the news, he said he rushed to issue the statement.

"I just made a very stupid mistake, I’m very sorry about that. My apologies to everyone at The Washington Post," McGrath said in a brief interview.

"I apologize, because I know a put a lot of people into a modestly stressful position, which is never my intent for my friends in the media," McGrath added. "So I’m sorry about that. A massive egg on my face, I’m so sorry."

McGrath also took to Twitter to apologize:

It is common for public figures to prepare statements of condolence on the death of notable figures well in advance of their passing, and McGrath said Bush's office has been ready with a statement for several weeks. Other public figures and news organizations have also mistakenly reported or commented on the premature death of other public figures in the past.

The 95-year old Mandela was discharged from hospital in Pretoria on Sunday while still in critical condition and was taken by ambulance to his home in Johannesburg, where he will receive intensive care, the office of South Africa’s president said.

Follow Ed O'Keefe on Twitter: @edatpost

Ed O’Keefe is a congressional reporter with The Washington Post and covered the 2008 and 2012 presidential and congressional elections.
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