Hager sorry for Hidden Fences gaffe

WASHINGTON • Of all the awkward red carpet moments at the Golden Globes on Sunday night, one stood out: When Today show correspondent Jenna Bush Hager accidentally said singer Pharrell Williams was nominated for "Hidden Fences".

That phrase, a combination of two movies with black leading actors (Hidden Figures and Fences) immediately went viral, especially with Williams' facial expression.

When Michael Keaton made the same mistake onstage later in the night, it sparked a #GoldenGlobesErrors hashtag, where people combined the names of other movies with black stars.

Hager, the daughter of former United States president George W. Bush, addressed the mix-up on Monday morning. "I had an error in the night which I have to apologise for," she said. "When I was interviewing the incomparable Pharrell, whom I adore, I accidentally - and in the electricity of the red carpet, which I've never done one before - called Hidden Figures 'Hidden Fences'."

"I have seen both movies. I thought they were both brilliant. I have interviewed casts from both of the movies. And if I offended people, I am deeply sorry. It was a mistake because I am - y'all know I'm not perfect. I am authentic, but a human," she continued, her voice starting to shake a bit. "And what I didn't want to do is make anybody feel lesser than who they are."

"I apologise to the cast, to Pharrell, but it was a mistake," she said. "I hope we can move on."

Williams was nominated for Best Original Score for Hidden Figures, which is centred on three black women working behind the scenes at Nasa in the 1960s.

Fences, based on August Wilson's play, is another movie starring black actors, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis.

Today weatherman Al Roker stepped in to defend his colleague Hager. "All of us that know you, know your heart, and know that that was a mistake," he said. "We've been in live situations... and you make a mistake. Look, I forgot Braveheart when I was interviewing Mel Gibson last night."

Then Roker turned his attention to those who mocked her, slamming everyone who helped make "Hidden Fences" a meme. "This culture of Twitter and people waiting to pounce, to get on people for - it's just got to stop."

Hager said: "You know, 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. But to act as though I don't care about, um, people, really hurt. And it did."

By the only measure that truly matters, the Nielsen ratings, Jimmy Fallon's turn as Golden Globes host on Sunday night appears to have been a modest success.

According to early Nielsen data distributed by NBC, the ceremony managed a 13.3 rating in 56 local markets, a 2 per cent increase from last year.

In the local markets, it was the second-highest-rated Globes in 10 years, behind the 14.1 rating in 2014, when Tina Fey and Amy Poehler hosted.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 11, 2017, with the headline 'Hager sorry for Hidden Fences gaffe'. Subscribe