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April 18, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

The cable news networks and the broadcast networks were being taken to task on Wednesday for confusing reports about an arrest of a possible suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings. CNN’s John King, citing a local source, was the first to report about the arrest. Moments later, Megyn Kelly on Fox News followed suit, citing a report by a local Fox affiliate in Boston. On ABC at about the same time, ABC interrupted its programming for a special report by George Stephanopoulos, who called in Brian Ross for a similar account. ABC, Ross added, has been unable to confirm the report of the arrest. NBC’s Pete Williams then took to the air to report that he had learned that a suspect had been identified on video although, he added, others said that a suspect had been spotted but not identified. Minutes later, CBS became the first network to report that, despite the rumors, no arrest had been made. CNN’s King returned to the air about a half hour later to observe that “clearly there has been significant confusion” and that anyone reporting an arrest (as he had done) “is getting ahead of themselves.” Each of the other news networks then began backing off as well. Precisely one hour after the first reports of the arrest had been broadcast, the FBI released a statement asking “the media, particularly at this early stage of the investigation, to exercise caution and attempt to verify information through appropriate official channels before reporting.”’s Dylan Byers compared the confusing reports to those that followed the Supreme Court’s Obamacare ruling last June. “Now as then, many of the nation’s most trusted, established media organizations raced to broadcast breaking news, only to find themselves eating their words minutes later. Now as then, those who resisted the temptations of getting the story first were rewarded with getting the story right. And now as then, the media’s failures were widely mocked across social media,” Byers observed. And mock they did. On Comedy Central, Jon Stewart played clips of CNN’s Wolf Blitzer bragging about the network’s “exclusive reporting” of the arrest. Said Stewart: “It’s exclusive because it was completely f***ing wrong!.”