On Thursday, Reuters accidentally published an advance obituary for financier and liberal philanthropist George Soros.
What gave it away were the headline that stated his age as “XX” and the lede noting that “George Soros, who died XXX at age XXX, was a predatory and hugely successful financier and investor, who argued paradoxically for years against the same sort of free-wheeling capitalism that made him billions.” (“Soros didn’t look a day over YYY,” Jeffrey Goldberg quipped on Twitter.)
“A spokesman for Soros said that the New York-based financier is alive and well,” a follow-up Reuters article noted. “Reuters regrets the error.”
But, hey, this is a great opportunity for Mr. Soros to take a good, hard, Scrooge-and-the-ghost-of-Christmas-future style look at his existence. Mr. Soros, if you don’t want to be the kind of guy whom Reuters describes as a “predatory and hugely successful financier and investor, who argued paradoxically for years against the same sort of free-wheeling capitalism that made him billions,” you can still change your life! Quick, order a turkey and make Tiny Tim fight for it with other contractors in the entirely unfettered free market, or donate it to the George W. Bush presidential library with an apologetic card, or something.
This pre-obituary is just another reminder of why you may think you want to attend your own funeral, but, really, you don’t.
I don’t think there’s anything Soros can do to change the sentence “An enigma, wrapped in intellect, contradiction and money,” but Reuters really should.
Even an Oxford comma wouldn’t improve that mess. Then again, the next draft will just say something like “He beat on, a financier against the current, drawn back ceaselessly into the past,” or “He was a philanthropist for progressive causes, full of sound and fury and also money, signifying nothing.”
“Cowards die many times before their deaths,” as Caesar said. Also, people who have their obituaries printed in error, and cats.
This is especially irriating for people who hate spoilers and did not want to know that George Soros is inevitably marked for death, as are all of us, and that when he perishes, the obituary will go something like this.
Commentators on Twitter and elsewhere borrowed the Mark Twain quip that “reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” Several people had already made plans not to attend his funeral but to send letters saying they approved of it.
All in all, this has not been the media’s best week.
“He has also been a vocal supporter of the right to die in dignity,” the obituary noted, with unintended irony.
Well, zero-for-two ain’t bad.