CNN suffered a public shaming after erroneously reporting Wednesday that an arrest
had been made in connection with the Boston Marathon bombings.According to a source at CNN, the network was the first to report that a suspect had been identified. Anchor John King sent in a report around 1 p.m. that a source “briefed” on the investigation had told King a positive identification had been made. CNN Washington bureau chief Sam Feist approved that report, according to the source.
According to the source, who was reviewing internal email logs, Fran Townsend was the first at the network to say that an arrest had been made.
“As I think everyone knows, we really f—ed up. No way around it,” the source said.
The source said that the network’s email network went quiet for a 15-minute period shortly after the retraction — “so people [were] either being more cautious or getting yelled at.”
Townsend’s report came around the same time as other outlets, including the Associated Press and the Boston Globe, also reported an arrest, so it is not clear whether CNN was the first to make the mistake.
Regardless, unforced error marked another black eye for the network and its new president Jeff Zucker. Last year, CNN memorably botched a report saying that the Supreme Court had struck down the Affordable Care Act. Under Zucker, the network has faced criticism for some of its coverage, including extensive reports on the Carnival Triumph “poop cruise.”
Wednesday’s false arrest reports also drew a scathing rebuke from the FBI, which urged the press “to exercise caution and attempt to verify information through appropriate official channels before reporting.”
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.