• Conflicting Reports

CNN Goes With FALSE Security Breach STORY

Omits FALSE Reporting Angle From Own Story

CNN Statement:

CNN STATEMENT:

 

CNN staff were monitoring law enforcement activity this morning given the 9/11 anniversary.

After hearing a U.S. Coast Guard radio transmission that a boat had breached a security zone on the Potomac River a short distance from the Pentagon where the President had just attended a 9/11 anniversary ceremony, CNN contacted the Coast Guard public affairs office at the agency’s headquarters. The Coast Guard spokeswoman said she was unaware of any activity taking place on the Potomac River.  

After hearing a further radio transmission about 10 rounds being expended, and after reviewing video of rapid movement by Coast Guard vessels as the President’s motorcade crossed the Memorial Bridge, CNN reported the story. Simultaneously, during a second phone call, the Coast Guard spokeswoman informed us that its National Command Center and other command posts knew nothing about any activity in the area.

Given the circumstances, it would have been irresponsible not to report on what we were hearing and seeing. As with any breaking news story, information is often fluid and CNN updated the story with the official explanation from the Coast Guard as soon as it was provided.

CNN in a story on its website, seems to be leading with a vindication of itself, highlighting the fact that the Coast Guard did not alert other agencies about the exercise (apparently they didn’t notify news organizations either). There is NO mention in the story that the exercise caused CNN to go on the air with breaking news, which made this a story in the first place.   The headline reads:  Coast Guard to review exercise after Potomac security scare. IT WAS CNN REPORTING THAT CAUSED THE SCARE IN THE FIRST PLACE — BUT THAT FACT IS LEFT OUT OF THE STORY!

Minutes after American Airlines 1549 had ditched into the Hudson River last January and news organizations started learning about the near-impossible event — a much-respected, senior assignment editor at ABC sent an email around to all news personnel stating that the incident had to be a “movie shoot”.

He was wrong. 

But in a way he was very right.  Right for the way he was thinking.

Today the US Coast Guard was conducting an exercise on the Potomac River when news organizations started hearing about shots fired in some sort of security breach.  CNN went wild of course, the Breaking News Banner went up and the coverage was wall-to-wall immediately.  A lot is already being said about the bright idea to hold a security exercise on 9/11 — but that has no bearing on what the news network did.  They went with a story without checking. 

If only someone had thought like that ABC assignment editor during the Miracle on the Hudson.  It is something we always need to keep in mind as news people — if it looks too “real”, check, and then check again.  When I was a producer on the desk, I always would think “drill” if something seemed “too big”.  Even on 9/11/01, for a second or two, I wondered if this was some sort of mass exercise. 

In my days on the desk, I remember getting familiar with the way the NYPD conducted their drills, the codes they would use, and the language that would come across the radios.  CNN was working off radio communications — which is one of best and worst ways to get information.  Yes you’ll get to hear what’s going on on the ground, but they’re talking to each other.  Nobody is giving you, the reporter, the information.  Overhearing conversations are never the same as taking part in them.   So this is raw information.  As raw as it gets.  You use the information at your own peril.  It’s not wrong to use the information heard in radio communications, it just should not be used as the sole source of your reporting.

And then there’s always the ability to pick up the phone.  But today there seems to be no time for verification.  You snooze you lose.

What I would like to know is how the media will will cover this story, if at all.  Will they simply continue questioning the government about the ridiculous idea of having an exercise on the Potomac on 9/11?  Is it possible for once, that news organizations will not see themselves as “protected” against the same type of scrutiny they cast on others? 

The government messes up it gets coverage, as it should.  Wall Street messes up it gets coverage.  The school system messes up it gets coverage.  Let’s face it — any individual citizen messes up, anybody on the planet, the media has no compunction reporting the infraction to the world, and in many cases hurting that individual or even destroying that person’s life.

I’d like to see the media cover this in the same aggressive manner, camped out outside CNN HQ, demanding answers.  But I’m not going to hold my breath that that segment is STILL TO COME on CNN.

Watching the CNN video of the bogus story, and knowing what an embarrassment it is, this one line kept repeating in my head, “In a story you’ll only see here on CNN”.

Fri Sep 11, 10:11 am ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Coast Guard fired on a suspicious boat in the Potomac River in central Washington, D.C., amid high security while September 11 memorial ceremonies were being held nearby at the Pentagon, CNN reported on Friday.

CNN is NOT playing this on their website.  They’re only playing clips from the point they got the story right:

cnn screen shot

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