NBC News correspondent Jenna Bush Hager attracted the ire of social media Sunday night when she called the movie Hidden Figures "Hidden Fences" on the Golden Globes red carpet during an interview with Hidden Figures composer Pharrell Williams.
The slip-up was magnified because the two movies Bush Hager conflated, Hidden Figures and Fences, are about black characters, and Bush Hager is the daughter of former President George W. Bush, who was famously accused of not caring about black people.
Bush Hager went on Today Monday to apologize for the gaffe.
"When I was interviewing the incomparable Pharrell, who I adore, I accidentally — in the electricity of the red carpet, which I've never done one before — called Hidden Figures 'Hidden Fences,'" Bush Hager said. "I have seen both movies, thought they were both brilliant. I've interviewed casts from both of the movies and if I offended people I am deeply sorry."
"It was a mistake, because ya'll know I'm not perfect, I am authentic, but a human. And what I didn't want to do is make anyone lesser than who they are. So, anyway, I apologize to both the casts, to Pharrell, but it was a mistake and I hope we can move on," she added.
Al Roker defended Bush Hager, saying that mistakes happen, such as when he forgot Mel Gibson directed Braveheart while interviewing the Hacksaw Ridge director on the Globes red carpet. He complained about the people on social media calling people on TV when they make mistakes.
"Honest mistakes happen in live television and this culture of Twitter and waiting to pounce and get on people, it's got to stop," Roker said. "It's got to stop somewhere because it's pretty ridiculous."
"I typically have a pretty thick skin because I've lived through a lot, and you can say whatever you want to say about me," said Bush Hager, "but to act as though I don't care about people really hurt"
Bush Hager did not say "black people," thus skirting the issue that people were actually mad about, which is the perception that two movies about black people were being lumped together in the minds of white people. And Bush Hager wasn't alone: Michael Keaton also said "Hidden Fences" while reading the nominees for Best Supporting Actress, which was won by Viola Davis for Fences.
"Figures" and "Fences" are similar words rhythmically and they both start with "F," so it's an understandable mistake, but people were reacting to the perceived Freudian slip in which Bush Hager and Keaton marked Hidden Figures and Fences as dismissible "black movies."
Hidden Figures is about the true story of three black female mathematicians who helped plan the Apollo 11 mission, and Fences is a family drama based a Pulitzer-winning play by August Wilson.
They are not — in case it isn't totally clear by now — the same movie.