A local Maine television anchor apologized Monday afternoon after he erroneously misattributed a quote critical of Ben Carson's nomination to head Housing and Urban Development to the wrong lawmaker.
In an initial tweet shortly before 12:30 p.m., WCSH-TV's Pat Callaghan tweeted that Republican Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said "Maine & the country deserve better" than Carson leading HUD.
While Collins was certainly critical of President-elect Donald Trump during the campaign, Collins was not behind the harsh critique of Carson — Democratic Rep. Chellie Pingree (Maine) was.
Pingree's statement, which she promoted on her own Twitter account, reads in part:
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development oversees many programs that are critical to Maine communities and families. To name just a few, Community Development Block Grants help fund infrastructure improvements in our downtowns, affordable housing programs and rental assistance ensure that people in need have a roof over their heads, and Federal Housing Authority mortgage guarantees make the dream of home ownership possible for thousands of Maine families. I worry for the future of these important programs if Dr. Ben Carson is confirmed as Secretary.
Callaghan has since deleted his tweet and apologized to all involved, including Carson and Collins.
"BREAKING: I made a huge error in saying [Collins] opposes Carson as HUD sec," he tweeted nearly 15 minutes after his initial tweet. "That was [a Pingree] quote. My apologies to all."
"Again, my apologies to [Collins] and [Carson] for erroneous tweet on HUD nomination," Callaghan followed up.
BREAKING: I made a huge error in saying @SenatorCollins opposes Carson as HUD sec. That was @chelliepingree quote. My apologies to all.— Pat Callaghan (@Pat Callaghan) 1480959783.0
Again, my apologies to @SenatorCollins & @RealBenCarson for erroneous tweet on HUD nomination. #mepolitics— Pat Callaghan (@Pat Callaghan) 1480959875.0
On Twitter, Collins thanked Callaghan for his correction.
Thank you for the correction https://t.co/zm7RgbBoC6— Sen. Susan Collins (@Sen. Susan Collins) 1480960071.0
Callaghan's mistake, which was quickly called out by Collins, highlights a growing problem with fake news and misinformation that spreads rapidly through social media. Google and Facebook announced last month that the two tech giants would begin to crack down on fake news — a controversial move especially for those who don't see policing false and/or misleading information to be their job.
Facebook has even created an official task force to explore its role in promoting false information that might have led to Trump's election.