On Sunday, Los Angeles Times reporter Evan Halper penned a story headlined: “Pete Buttigieg outlasts the pundits by emerging as the alternative to Biden.”
In the piece, Halper wrote that “Buttigieg chafes at comparisons to Biden and Bloomberg.”
“My message is not about going back to where we were,” he said.
For a lot of people, “‘normal’ has been a real problem for a very long time, and I think the failures of the Obama era help explain how we got Trump. I am running on building a future that is going to have a lot of differences.… One thing I learned in 2016 is to be very skeptical of any message that relies on the word ‘again.’ ”
The internet exploded. Did Mayor Pete just diss former president Barack Obama, the savior of the Democratic Party? Shame on him!
But as the conflagration raged, Halper said it was all a big mistake.
“My story about @PeteButtigieg ends with him referring to the ‘failures of the Obama era.’ That’s an inaccurate quote — the result of transcribing a noisy recording at a loud rally. His exact words were ‘failures of the old normal,’” Halper wrote on Twitter.
“I deeply regret the mistake. When we make errors we own them. This one really hurts because it went viral,” Halper added.
My story about @PeteButtigieg ends with him referring to the “failures of the Obama era.” That’s an inaccurate quote — the result of transcribing a noisy recording at a loud rally. His exact words were “failures of the old normal”
— Evan Halper (@evanhalper) November 11, 2019
Buttigieg praised the reporter for owning his mistake.
“I appreciate this reporter’s swift and honest correction of a misquote on my views of the Obama presidency. From health care to DADT repeal to the rescue of the auto industry, my appreciation of the great leadership of Barack Obama comes from a very personal place,” Buttigieg wrote.
Some on Twitter didn’t believe the correction.
“I get it, I appreciate the admission because everyone makes mistakes,” wrote one. “However… ‘Failures of the Obama era’ sounds NOTHING like ‘Failures of the old normal.’ ”
I get it, I appreciate the admission because everyone makes mistakes….
“Failures of the Obama era.” sounds NOTHING like “Failures of the old normal”
Just doesn’t pass the sound test…. https://t.co/1tjq6gAOmY
— Jason Johnson (@DrJasonJohnson) November 11, 2019
After plenty of doubting posts on Twitter, Buttigieg’s senior communications adviser Lis Smith posted audio from the event.
“Audio/transcript from q on the bus that led to misquote of @PeteButtigieg in @latimes. Also a reminder that we provide media access that NO other campaign does & it leads to hours and hours of tape,” she wrote.
Listen for yourself.
Audio/transcript from q on the bus that led to misquote of @PeteButtigieg in @latimes. Also a reminder that we provide media access that NO other campaign does & it leads to hours and hours of tape.
— Lis Smith (@Lis_Smith) November 11, 2019
Mistakes happen. But it is worth noting that the original article simply has the quote changed, without noting the error or the correction.