WASHINGTON – While listening to their local television news station last week in Arkansas, some viewers found a surprising report: President Trump had defeated Joseph R. Biden Jr. in the state three weeks before election day.
KNWA, the NBC subsidiary based in northwest Arkansas and the Arkansas River Valley, said it was all a mistake. The broadcaster had been working on its election night graphics and falsely broadcast results on a banner at the bottom of the screen at 5 p.m. local news broadcast.
In an email, Lisa Kelsey, the vice president and general manager of KNWA and other stations in the region, said the slip was accidental and only a local problem.
One producer activated the fake control which indicated "a sifting through information about the election" for about a minute, she wrote, adding that no election results are currently available.
"We take this bug very seriously and will make sure it doesn't happen again," Ms Kelsey said in an email.
Subsequently, however, concerns were highlighted about the way news organizations report and characterize incomplete results on election night and whether erroneous or misleading data could inadvertently or intentionally affect the perception of who won before the result can be officially announced .
The issue has been of particular concern to Democrats, who fear that Mr Trump's statements about electoral fraud and his reluctance to commit to accepting the result could lead him to come back early and warn him that the election is over is.