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Twitter Reacts To Deadline Prematurely Posting Pence Caught COVID

By Kristy Puchko | Politics | October 9, 2020 |

By Kristy Puchko | Politics | October 9, 2020 |


Last night, Dustin posted in Trumpdates about how Deadline had published a story reporting Vice President Mike Pence had been diagnosed with COVID. However, Deadline’s sloppy headline suggested something was amiss. Here’s a screenshot, snapped last night:

In response to Deadline’s tweet of this post, Twitter users reacted with shock, concern, and jokes.

After a flood of reactions, Deadline rectified the error, deleting both the post and tweet while offering a public apology.

Deadline did not explain how such a mistake had been made. However, popular speculation is that the post was prepped to be on top of the news if such a story broke. This might sound ghoulish, but it’s a practice often employed at major outlets for things like obituaries or even presumed Comic-Con announcements. The idea is to give your site the edge on breaking news by having most of the article prepped so you can just tweak some details and BOOM: EXCLUSIVE TOLDJA! DEADLINE IS THE BEST.

Once the retraction was posted, Twitter turned to the inside baseball of dunking on Deadline.

There was also a contingent that decided this mistake was proof of the Fake News Liberal Media, yadda yadda yadda.

I’d wager these folks don’t actually read Deadline. Because 1) it is chiefly an entertainment site, not a political coverage site. 2) As outlined above, pre-writing possible news posts is an industry-wide standard and the headline with “PREP. DO NOT PUBLISH” suggests this was that. 3) Deadline is hardly a haven for progressive thought.

Let us not forget they’ve used their platform to give Michael Douglas a place to pre-emptively squash harassment allegations, with a post that suggested the Me Too movement was going too far.

Deadline Michael Douglas post.png

“After all,” Co-Editor-in-Chief Mike Fleming Jr. wrote, “Few of these stories have been accompanied by police reports, DNA evidence or criminal prosecutions.”

On alleged abuser Casey Affleck stepping down from his Oscar-presenting duties, Fleming wrote, “He was in a no-win situation, with all the attention surrounding the #MeToo movement. The specter of Affleck presenting would have created controversy.” Because the real victim of the abuse Affleck allegedly committed against female co-workers is Affleck himself? Deadline seems to think so.

Fleming also infamously wrote this hot take about the female-fronted Ghostbusters reboot:

Screen Shot 2020-10-09 at 9.02.56 AM.png

I’m not linking to these pieces, as an ode to Deadline, which traditionally snatches stories from other outlets without crediting them. However, hilariously, they did LINK TO THEMSELVES in their Pence apology post.


All this is to say, Deadline is not a part of the Resistance. They are an entertainment news outlet dedicated to keeping their network of sources comfortable and those studio ad dollars coming. Their mistake last night did not expose some Fake News conspiracy, it exposed a common practice of predictive drafting. Meanwhile, the president actually does have COVID-19 and is posting clearly manipulated videos on Twitter. But by all means, Trump stumpers, turn your attention to this lame non-mystery.

Back on Twitter, users enjoyed some levity, turning “PREP. DO NOT PUBLISH UNTIL THE NEWS CROSSES” into a meme.

Kristy Puchko is the film editor of Pajiba. You can follow her on Twitter.

Header Image Source: Getty