Diane Sawyer and her ABC News team gave critics of the mainstream media even more ammunition after Sawyer reported on a three-year-old story as if it were current during "World News" on Thursday evening.
The story was about a massive Chinese traffic jam outside Beijing "now entering its third week." After noting that traffic had come to a standstill and people were eating noodles on the roadside, Sawyer reported that the jam would end on around Sept. 17 following the completion of scheduled construction.
The huge problem? The original report is from August 2010. Watch ABC's mistaken report below:
Mediaite's Andrew Kirell calls the gaffe "one of the goofier examples of sloppy journalism," which may be putting it kindly. He explains how the mistake may have happened:
The only 2013-dated articles on this “traffic jam” appear on the India Times website and on The Daily Beast’s “Cheat Sheet” link dump. The former’s write-up says the traffic has been ongoing for only nine days, so clearly that’s not the source. And given the Beast’s popularity in America, this little blurb could be where ABC first spotted the story:
It seems as though the Beast mistook the story to be current, but later updated their link-out with a correction: “Editor’s note: The traffic jam described in this news summary occured [sic] in August 2010.”
So let’s assume an ABC producer found the story there, but saw it before the Beast updated to reflect the actual date. They would still have had to completely ignore the time and date on the actual CBC article containing many of the details Sawyer reported on air.
Further, given the multiple sources the report likely required, one of the show's producers probably looked at several other articles on the traffic jam and somehow missed those 2010 time stamps as well.
Kirell concludes with one more fair, unanswered question: "Who obtained those photographs of the Chinese traffic jam without noticing they were from 2010?"