Well, looks like a reporter bothered to ask him what he believes.
How many right-wing blogs will note the correction?
"Over the last few days some media have been disseminating fantasies – I can't use any other word – about my secret Catholicism, citing my visit to the Sacro Convento friary, where the remains of St. Francis of Assisi lie," Gorbachev said, according to an Interfax article posted Friday.
"To sum up and avoid any misunderstandings, let me say that I have been and remain an atheist,” he stated.
I bring this up not because I care what Gorby's religious beliefs are. I don't think famous world leaders thinking like me verifies or discredits any certain belief about the world. But I think it's a great example of how these things work.
Often we are told of a statement, statistic, et al, that confirms something many people want to believe. It might change an election or ruin a career. People who pay attention to the news see the correction and wonder why everyone else is so stupid. Often they hold onto the original belief when confronted with facts refuting it. It's why we have 10% of white Democrats thinking Obama is a muslim.