An Obituary: The $16 Muffin Myth (9/20/11 – 10/28/11)

October 28, 2011: The day the muffin myth died.

The $16 muffin myth, 38 days old, had a short but eventful life. Conceived by mistake due to a misreading of incomplete expenditure information from an August 2009 conference at the Capital Hilton in D.C., the $16 muffin was born in a Justice Department Inspector General report on September 20, 2011.The $16 muffin myth, or “Muffingate” as it was known, was quick to make friends, especially since it was born at just the right time. Thanks to conservatives like Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) talking it up, “$16 muffins” was plastered all over the Internet and Bill O’Reilly even mentioned it on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

Pretty soon the White House was instructing agencies to be more careful and take precautions so that they wouldn’t wind up with the burden of a $16 muffin themselves.

But soon things took a turn for the worse.

On Sept. 23, the Capitol Hilton said the $16 muffins didn’t really exist. The next day, DOJ said it was “clear that the muffins did not cost $16.” The $16 muffin myth was further weakened once the Inspector General came out with a statement saying that the $16 wasn’t for just muffins but rather included “other food and beverage items, such as coffee, tea, and fruit, were included in the charged amount.”

Finally on Friday afternoon, October 28, just after 2 p.m., the DOJ’s Inspector General said they wished the $16 muffin myth has never even been born.

“We regret the error in our original report,” DOJ’s Inspector General office said in a revised report.

In it’s weakened state, people didn’t seem to care about the $16 muffin myth anymore. Most of the outlets that mentioned it in the first place didn’t even tell people what bad condition it was in. As a result, people will still be thinking the $16 muffin myth is alive and well long, long after it’s death.

The DOJ’s Inspector General’s office is hoping everyone can move on and prevent tragedies like this from every happening again.

“Finally, we hope that our correction of the record for this 1 conference among the 10 conferences we reviewed does not detract from the more significant conclusion in our report: government conference expenditures must be managed carefully, and the Department can do more to ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent wisely and accounted for properly,” they said in a statement.

Rest in peace, muffin myth.

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