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CBS erroneously publishes obituary for former first lady Barbara Bush

A screenshot from the CBS News website shows an erroneous headline reporting the death of former first lady Barbara Bush.
A screenshot from the CBS News website shows an erroneous headline reporting the death of former first lady Barbara Bush. CBS News

CBS News erroneously published an online obituary Sunday afternoon for former first lady Barbara Bush, whose family announced earlier in the day that she was in failing health.

The story’s headline read “DO NOT PUBLISH – Former first lady Barbara Bush d*es at age 92 DO NOT PUBLISH.” It was briefly published on cbsnews.com, then taken down.

The first lines of the story read, “Barbara Bush, the witty, gregarious matriarch of a political dynasty that propelled two of its members to the White House and dominated Republican politics for decades, has died after a series of recent hospitalizations. She was 92. A Bush family spokesman said Bush passed away peacefully in her home, surrounded by loved ones.”

News organizations often prepare obituaries for prominent people in advance so they will have them ready when needed. There have been several cases of such stories being prematurely published in the past, commonly by accident. Premature obituaries have been published for financier George Soros, Apple founder Steve Jobs, former Vice President Dick Cheney, Pope John Paul II and Barbara Bush’s husband, former President George H.W. Bush, according to The Guardian.

A family spokesman had announced earlier Sunday that Barbara Bush, who has undergone a series of recent hospitalizations, had decided not to seek additional medical treatment and instead seek comfort care at home.

Bush, 92, served as first lady during her husband’s term from 1989-1993 and is the mother of former President George W. Bush. She has been battling chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, reported CNN.

Jim McGrath, a spokesman for the Bush family, said Sunday that Former first lady Barbara Bush is in “failing health” and won’t seek additional medical treatment. He said she will instead focus on comfort care.

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