AP, WSJ, NPR Falsely Claim 2 Billion Viewers for Royal Wedding
It's truly astonishing how many media outlets forwarded on the stat that two billion people were going to or did watch the wedding. It's like, you have to throw out all common sense and the slightest inkling of skepticism, and then maybe you'd do it. Might as well throw in the sighting of Elvis in the shopping mall.
The "two billion" figure started with the British culture secretary saying it, in early April. How he would have any idea how many people might watch this was never clear. Sure enough there didn't turn out to be anything there. Yet outlet after outlet -- including AFP -- reported it at the time. Not many successfully followed up.
Looking through the clips of the last few days for "two billion" it is heavily British news outlets, as well as smaller and/or local news sites that did this. But it's not just them.
The Associated Press, Wall Street Journal, Democracy Now, and NPR's Morning Edition and Tell Me More all told their audience of some form of the "two billion" stat. The LATimes went with a nonsensical hedge in their lede: "before a potential worldwide audience of two billion people who tuned in on television and the Internet." Potential! Hah.
Angus Johnston has a post looking at the actual viewership data so far, trying to start to get a better idea of what viewership may have actually been. More data will be available in the coming days.