The Whopper of the Week is usually handed out to politicians who make false and misleading statements and fail to admit it.
But this week, we’d like to use the Whopper to highlight two politicians — one Republican and one Democrat — who made the effort to correct the record after they misspoke.
Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, Jr., R-Wis., had expressed concerns that the Federal Aviation Administration was planning to close 149 air traffic control towers around the nation that are operated by private contractors. The closures are the FAA’s attempt to cut costs in response to sequestration, a mandatory round of budget cuts that went into effect last month.
“I am concerned about the FAA’s announcement that 149 federal Contract Towers will be shut down as a result of sequestration, including all eight in Wisconsin,” Sensenbrenner said, citing the towers’ good safety record and low cost.
“Not coincidentally, 75 percent of the towers the Obama administration is closing are located in Republican congressional districts,” he added.
The problem is that the data from FAA doesn’t back up that statement. The complete list of closures shows a fairly even split between Republican and Democratic districts. Roughly 57 percent of the closures are in GOP districts, while around 43 percent are in Democratically controlled areas.
Many control towers in conservative districts are being targeted, but so are towers in liberal stalwarts like Massachusetts and California.
Sensenbrenner, however, was quick to correct his mistake, issuing a statement that “a statistic in the previous release was unverifiable.” The press release expressing concerns about the closures was reissued without the erroneous claim.
As an aside, the FAA announced Friday that the closures, set to take effect this month, have been postponed until June.
Democratic Newark Mayor Cory Booker made a similar slip and recovery, this one on gun control.
“There are still thousands of Americans that are being murdered every single day,” Booker said on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, advocating for tighter restrictions on firearms.
Booker has been touted as everything from a possible Senate candidate to a 2016 vice president nominee. But his statement about the number of deaths due to guns is an exaggeration. Other lawmakers who have made similar statements have also gotten the Whopper of the Week.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that in 2010 – the most recent year statistics are available – 11,078 people died from firearm-related incidents over the course of the entire year. Instead of “thousands of Americans,” that averages out to about 30 people per day.
Booker took to Twitter to correct his mistake.
“Just caught myself miss-speaking on ABC. Its hundreds being killed everyday not thousands. Sorry about that,” he wrote.
But the “hundreds” is still high, so eventually the mayor sent out another tweet.
“Sorry again, officially it is approximately 30 people murdered every day due to gun violence,” the message said.
Americans appreciate how easy it is to misspeak in public when you’re constantly in the limelight. The problem, most times, is that politicians don’t take the time to correct their mistakes.
Sensenbrenner and Booker, however, did what the public expects of its leaders. And in honor of their taking the path less chosen, the Washington Guardian has decided not to award a Whopper of the Week this week.