CNN’s Brian Stelter devoted an entire segment on Sunday’s edition of Reliable Sources to obsessing over President Trump’s spelling mistakes on Twitter. While he conceded that “everybody makes spelling mistakes,” Stelter seemed to think that the President’s Twitter typos deserve extra special scrutiny because “if you can’t get the small stuff,” such as spelling, “people worry about the big stuff.” The clear implication was that President Trump’s spelling habits have an impact on his ability to run the country effectively.
Stelter spent the segment making the case that “Donald Trump makes a lot more spelling errors" than “most people.” After playing a clip of a Saturday Night Live skit making fun of the President’s misspellings, Stelter called the skit a “death of truth,” while maintaining “it’s actually not that funny. I know English teachers are horrified by the President’s poor form.”
The CNN media critic complained that he had “never seen anyone do a comprehensive study of his spelling errors or look at what they mean” before plugging an “excellent website” called Factbase that "has every single word the President says” and “looks at all of Trump’s tweets, even the deleted ones, for...typos and other screw-ups.”
Someone has too much time on their hands.
According to Factbase, Trump has made “more than 188 spelling errors on Twitter” since taking office in early 2017. Stelter went on to highlight some specific examples of Trump’s Twitter typos, including incorrectly spelling the first name of his predecessor “Barrack” instead of “Barack” and misspelling Capitol Hill as “Capital Hill.”
In addition to focusing on the data surrounding President Trump’s spelling errors, Stelter stacked the President up against Democratic politicians. It must have delighted him to report that Trump made a lot more spelling errors than all of the Democratic presidential candidates. Factbase concluded that Andrew Yang has made 14 mistakes since the President took office, Bernie Sanders made only three, while former President Obama has a spotless spelling record when it comes to his Twitter account.
After his monologue concluded, Stelter brought on an employee from Factbase, Bill Fischling, who advised President Trump to “turn on autocorrect.” Apparently, Fischling forgot that autocorrect does not always work like it should; in some cases, the program can create errors rather than fix them.
Throughout his conversation with Fischling, Stelter reiterated his earlier point that his inaccurate spellings raise a “deeper issue about his inaccuracy” and concluded that while “it’s not the biggest thing in the world,” “accuracy always matters.”
This is hardly the first time CNN has obsessed over spelling errors in Trump’s tweets. Last year, John King mocked the President’s spelling errors on Twitter, concluding that “the President of the United States needs supervision.”
Based on the tone of this segment on Reliable Sources, it looks like Stelter agrees wholeheartedly with King’s analysis. Stelter definitely lived up to his reputation as the media “hall monitor.”
A transcript of the relevant portion of Sunday’s edition of Reliable Sources is below. Click “expand” to read more.
Reliable Sources with Brian Stelter
BRIAN STELTER: Everybody makes spelling mistakes. All right? Everybody does. I do. Everybody does. But on Twitter, Donald Trump makes a lot more of them than most people. Just this week, he misspelled “Republican” and “unfair,” but those are hardly the worst examples, and we have seen countless absurd spellings from the Commander-in-chief. He has called showbiz “shoebiz,” there’s “hamberders,” there’s the “smocking gun,” there’s a lot of these, even misspelling his wife Melania’s name. And he’s been ridiculed for it by late-night comics.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEC BALDWIN AS PRESIDENT TRUMP: I think you’ve got a couple of typos on that shirt.
CECILY STRONG AS TRUMP SUPPORTER: No, this was taken verbatim from one of your tweets, therefore, it’s correct.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
STELTER: That’s a thing. Death of truth, right? It’s actually not that funny. I know English teachers are horrified by the President’s poor form. Lots of other people are embarrassed by it too. But I’ve never seen anyone do a comprehensive study of his spelling errors or look at what they mean. So, that’s where Factbase comes in. Factbase is this excellent web site that has every single word the President says; some other politicians as well. It looks at all of Trump’s tweets, even the deleted ones, for this database of typos and other screw-ups. So, we gave President Trump the full benefit of the doubt. These researchers only counted true misspellings, homophone swaps, and incorrect multi-word phrases. So, here’s what the researchers found. On average, Trump makes a spelling error at least one out of every five days. And since taking office, he’s made at least 188 of them total; more…more than 188 spelling errors on Twitter. Now, what do we compare this to? Let’s take a look at Trump’s family members to compare to…let’s take a look at the 2020 Democratic candidates as well and just see how Trump compares. Well, this says it all. Someone like Andrew Yang, 14 mistakes; Bernie Sanders, three misspellings; Obama, zero. This is during the time since Trump took office. Donald Trump Jr. tweets a lot so he’s had 90 mistakes. But generally, all these politicians, they get it right. They’re careful. They paid close attention to what they’re tweeting. President Trump is really the…the odd man out on this; with constant misspellings on his feed. But it hasn’t always been this way. Look, in 2015, only 18 misspellings, only 18 errors. But there’s been a huge spike since he took office. Of course, if you can’t get the small stuff right, people worry about the big stuff. And he gets a lot of the small things wrong. Look, the word he misspells most often is counsel as in White House counsel or special counsel. Factbase found some other frequent misspellings too; like Barack Obama, misspelling Barack, maybe thinking of Tom Barrack instead. There’s others as well, Capitol Hill he gets wrong a lot. There’s a lot of these absurd errors that happen all the time. Trump often mistakes the difference between “it is” and “it’s.” This is…missing a difference in these words. So, these are just some of the most frequent misspellings that we found. This is…of…of course, who can forget “covfefe” and all of those. Here’s Trump’s numbers up against Obama’s just to get it into perspective here, because again everybody makes mistakes. Obama started tweeting in…Trump started tweeting in 2009, Obama started tweeting in 2012. If you compare their errors since joining Twitter, Trump has made 358 of those spelling mistakes, those errors; Barack Obama, four. We could all use a proofreader, right? I think President Trump could use two or three proofreaders. So, here to put it all in perspective for us, let’s talk to the man who helped us do this research at Factbase. His name is Bill Frischling and he’s joining me now from D.C. Bill, just give us the takeaway. When you all did this research, it took you many hours and we’re grateful for it. What’s the lesson learned?
BILL FRISCHLING: Turn on an autocorrect. These are…most of these errors that we found, what was surprising is, particularly when comparing against the cohort was, they were so concentrated. Seven of the top ten errors…of accounts we found with errors were all coming out of the White House or from family members. The other three were…the highest number was four times lower than Donald Trump’s number. And all of these are avoidable.
Twitter…iPhones have built-in autocorrect, Twitter and different applications have built-in spelling checks.
FRISCHLING: These are things that could have been avoided. And it’s just kind of surprising that given that he’s…speaks…he has the 11th largest Twitter account in the world, somebody should be checking it or at least you know, having a bot check it.
STELTER: Yeah. It gets to this deeper issue about his inaccuracy. Of course, some of his aides claim that the misspellings make him authentic. I just think his English teachers would have flunked him for that excuse.
FRISCHLING: My mom’s an English teacher and I would agree with you there. I…
STELTER: There you go.
FRISCHLING: I don’t think…I don’t think that’s a reason.
STELTER: It’s not the biggest thing in the world, but it still matters. Accuracy…
STELTER: …always matters. Bill, thank you so much. Bill Frischling, the head of Factbase. Check it out: Factbase. You can Google as well. And they’re launching a tool today that flags Trump’s misspellings as they happen.