This past Saturday, The Daily Pennsylvanian made a post to our DPolitics blog detailing an encounter between Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio and a staffer of fellow candidate Ted Cruz, in which Rubio comments on a book that the staffer was reading.
We transcribed the video of the interaction reflecting our genuine and honest interpretation of what was said, but it's now clear that our transcription, which appeared as subtitles on the video embedded in the post, was incorrect.
Around 2 a.m. on Sunday, we discovered from another Cruz staffer that the book in question in the video was the Bible, and we updated the post accordingly. But this significantly changed the meaning of Rubio’s words as originally transcribed, as it now purported to show Rubio pointing to the Bible and saying "not a lot of answers in there." Later, the accuracy of that transcription was brought into question due to the unclear audio; upon returning to Philadelphia Sunday evening, we updated the post to reflect uncertainty over what was said.
But Cruz Communications Director Rick Tyler had shared the original post on Twitter and Facebook earlier Sunday. He later posted an apology for posting the story, but on Monday, Cruz asked him to resign for a "grave error in judgment." Cruz said that regardless of the accuracy of the story, "our campaign should not have sent it."
On Monday, we acknowledged the inaccuracy of our original transcription and replaced the original subtitled video embedded into the post with the raw footage of the encounter. On Tuesday, we fully retracted the post.
This inaccurate transcription and reporting is the direct result of editorial mistakes on our part.
First, before reporting on and publishing the transcript from the encounter, we should have reached out to the parties involved to confirm what was actually said and what book the Cruz staffer was reading once we realized Rubio was referring to the book in the interaction. We failed to do so.
Second, upon learning later in the day that the book in question was the Bible, we should have taken the time to understand how the new information changed the context and weight of the situation and should have reevaluated our reporting accordingly before publishing any updates. Again, we failed to do so.
We sincerely regret and apologize for these errors.
In the days since the original post was published, we have actively taken steps to correct these errors and provide context for why and how they were made. It is only fair that we have been publicly held accountable for failing to fulfill our editorial responsibilities.
We have always taken these responsibilities very seriously, and we will continue to do so. We have met as an editorial board to discuss what we can take away from the situation to inform our reporting in the future, and we will continue to have these conversations.
We have also reached out to alumni who are professionals in the world of journalism to diagnose where we are at fault and how we can do a better job next time. We sincerely appreciate the support we have received.
We will continue to discuss the takeaways from this particular incident internally, and we are confident that our evaluations will inform how we can better serve the Penn community moving forward.