White House gets skewered for its onslaught of embarrassing typos

White House gets skewered for its onslaught of embarrassing typos
Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks

We all know President Donald Trump has difficulty spelling and often botches his tweets. But to be fair, precise typing and spelling ability is actually something of a particular skill, and its absence doesn't necessarily tell you all that much about a person.


But for any large and powerful organization, there are usually teams of reviewers who scrutinize any formal statements or texts before they go public. They hire people who are in charge of avoiding sloppiness, for catching any errors before they're sent out because clear and formal communication sends an important signal to the world. And it's clear that this level of review is either missing or negligent at the White House.

On Thursday, the White House publicized official documents with three major errors:

  1. On the White House website, it referred to the Boston Red Sox as the "Red Socks."
  2. In a press releases email, the White House then referred to the team as the "World Cup Series Champions."
  3. In a release celebrating the nomination of Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan to officially lead the department, it referred to his degree from the "Massachusetts Institution of Technology," which is actually the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The typos inevitably evoked mockery online:

Now, on the one hand, these are just goofy mistakes (though curiously, they all seem designed to infuriate people from Boston). Anyone can make mistakes — even news outlets make typographical errors.

But this kind of repeated sloppiness from the White House is concerning given the tremendous power it and its statements hold. Mere typos from the White House have already spooked the globe. About a year ago, the White House sent out a statement saying it believed Iran "has a robust, clandestine nuclear weapons program." But it later said this was a clerical error and that it meant to say Iran "had" such a program. This miscommunication — if that's what it was, and the explanation is believable given the other mistakes — was sent across the world, as ABC News recounted:

By using the word "has," the statement implied that Iran continued to work on its secret nuclear weapons program – which would have constituted a violation of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the Iran nuclear agreement.

The error reverberated across the globe, catching the attention of two prominent Middle Eastern publications, Haaretz and the Jerusalem Post, causing confusion over whether the United States currently assesses Iran’s nuclear weapons program to be active.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

Close
alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.