It's a good thing I was wearing my Slanket during Wednesday's Nightly News broadcast because diet root beer shot out of my nose when Brian Williams reported that Julia Louis-Dreyfus's name had been misspelled on her Hollywood Walk of Fame star. I hope this story was meant as irony because Nightly News is the news industry's poster child for misspelled names. Over the past few years, Nightly News producers have misspelled the names of Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, New York Governor David Paterson, Senator Kay Hagan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, NTSB member Kitty Higgins, Chesley Sullenberger, NSC Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, Helen Keller, the CDC's Anne Schuchat (both her first and last names) and many others. On his Daily Nightly blog, Brian Williams has misspelled the names of Eliot Spitzer, Paul Volcker, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, Gen. David Petraeus and singer Alison Krauss. On her 12/28/08 blog, Amy Robach misspelled Barack Obama's first name (as "Barak"). On his April 25 blog, Lester Holt misspelled the name of Nightly News correspondent Anne Thompson (as "Ann"). So Nightly News complaining about a misspelled name would be like Mark McGwire complaining about a baseball player using steroids (which Nightly News spelled as "steriods" during a Jan. 11 story about McGwire).
Case in point: The night after the Julia Louis-Dreyfus story aired, the Nightly News lead story was the 1,000 point drop in the stock market. To illustrate the plunge, Brian said, "Procter and Gamble, as important an American company as there is, lost half of its value in a five minute period...." An on-screen graph showed Procter's precipitous plunge and recovery. At the top of the graph, in big letters, were the words "Proctor & Gamble". Nightly News could not even manage to correctly spell the company's name--"as important an American company as there is." Maybe the producers should refer to them simply as "P & G". That's certainly easier to spell.