CNN published an article on January 18 by their employee Katie Glaeser, an Off Programming Producer, fun facts about past inaugurals that features a drawing of George Washington's face with a speech bubble connected to his open mouth containing the words "so help me God". The article says that "Yes, this stuff really happened." The fifth fact is titled "The 'So help me God' line was ad-libbed." It says:
I contacted Katie Glaeser to inform her that the National Archive Records Administration (NARA) does not credit George Washington with "doing it". It would be irresponsible for NARA to credit anyone with doing anything without evidence. I would have thought that a professional journalist at CNN would respect the need for evidence and notice this inconsistency. Journalism is not worth the paper it inks, or the screen it populates with words, without evidence to back its "this stuff really happened" presumption. I believe that my initial two emails about this reached her but my third attempt bounced.
The National Archives abandoned their claim that George Washington added the words "so help me God" some years ago (seven years ago?) after they determined it could not be supported. I know this because I witnessed the conversation with NARA about it and witnessed when NARA finally revised their web site to remove it (they were one of the last federal government websites to stop misrepresenting this ahistorical claim as historical).
Katie Glaeser and CNN should publicly acknowledge that NARA does not claim that GW said SHMG. If they are unsure they can contact NARA and ask them. It is easy to ask NARA, they have an online form for questions and usually respond promptly. This was NARA's response on 01-20, two days after CNN published their article claiming NARA asserts that George Washington said 'so help me god': "We do not address whether Washington added the line because there isn't an official account of the ceremony and scholarly sources about whether he said "so help me god" are inconsistent."
Indeed, scholarly sources are inconsistent. This is because too many historians in the past mistakenly accepted the story that George Washington did it without going through the trouble of verifying the claim from primary sources. This mistake has since been corrected and historians today are no longer repeating this false story. But it appears that Katie Gleaser prefers the false history so much that she relied on an old, isolated, inactive backup file with ".bak." in the file name on the NARA web server that asserted GW said SHMG while ignoring the corresponding active, current web page. NARA has now replaced their backup file so that it no longer claims George Washington said "so help me God" to protect our planet from unreliable journalists like CNN's Katie Glaeser.