This happens with alarming frequency of late: something huge happens in the world, and in the mad scramble to “break news” about the huge thing that happened, multiple traditional, trusted news outlets report false or misleading things. It happened today, again, when CNN, Fox News and the AP all falsely reported that an arrest had been made in the Boston bombing case.
As a visual aid, TPM put together a supercut of sorts illustrating CNN’s clusterfuckery in this regard. It’s quite a sad spectacle, very reminiscent of CNN’s botched handling of the Supreme Court’s decision on Obamacare.
The whole thing was so ridiculous that it prompted the FBI to make an almost unprecedented move: it released a statement scolding the media publicly and essentially asked it to chill the f*ck out.
Contrary to widespread reporting, no arrest has been made in connection with the Boston Marathon attack. Over the past day and a half, there have been a number of press reports based on information from unofficial sources that has been inaccurate. Since these stories often have unintended consequences, we ask the media, particularly at this early stage of the investigation, to exercise caution and attempt to verify information through appropriate official channels before reporting.
The whole thing makes me wonder: are we enabling them by paying attention so raptly in the aftermath of big events? Is our collective thirst to understand driving these people to idiocy?
I swear, if I didn’t work in media I would immediately turn off cable news and get off the internet anytime something like the Boston bombing happened, and I would stay away for at least 72 hours, because the misinformation and confusion is not only frustrating, but sad and depressing. I can barely listen to Wolf Blitzer speak without cringing anymore. It kind of all makes me long for the pre-cable and pre-digital media days of daily newspapers and Walter Cronkite doing the evening news. The people putting out the news then weren’t rushed the way the people putting out news today are, and the result was more vetted, accurate and trustworthy product.
Now excuse me while I go off to get a milkshake at the soda fountain of my local 5 and Dime.