Billy Graham, the 93-year-old evangelist battling with pneumonia, has forgiven a television network that wrongfully reported his death over the weekend.
The WBTV Channel 3 network in Charlotte, N.C. broadcasted a message Saturday about the evangelist’s death, before realizing the information was incorrect. Dennis Milligan, news director with WBTV, mistakenly thought that CBS networks sent a report about Graham’s untimely demise.
Kristen Miranda, WBTV anchor who announced the evangelist’s death, said she was told to do so through an earpiece, The Charlotte Observer reported. Ten minutes after Miranda’s report the network was forced to issue a correction.
The station realized their error after making a call to the Mission Hospital in Asheville where Graham was alive, overcoming pneumonia. Although Milligan maintained that a message from the network’s affiliate, CBS’ news feed caused him to air the story, he admits that it was not for publication.
"Whatever was there obviously was not for publication," Milligan said.
The news director posted a message on Facebook to apologize for the mistake.
“Accuracy is the most important ingredient of any newscast. We at WBTV strive every day to make sure that the news we deliver is accurate, fair and useful to our viewers,” the message from Milligan stated. “Today we made an unfortunate mistake. We apologize to Rev. Graham, his family, the staff of Mission Hospital in Asheville where he is being treated and most of all our viewers. “
However, fans of the network accepted Milligan’s apology on Facebook.
“Thank you for apologizing,” one fan wrote. “It will not deter me from being a WBTV fan, but I do appreciate the fact that you are going to make corrections.”
Another fan said, “I am sure the Graham family will forgive you guys.”
Graham’s spokesman A. Larry Ross followed the sentiment with an email to the station, which said the evangelist “was very forgiving.”