This year brought with it a slew of renown journalists making hasty conclusions and massive news networks caught with their facts unchecked. In multiple crisis situations, the mass media fell down on the job, reporting inaccurate information, speculating wildly, or simply not knowing what was going on. This year, 5 instances stand out as 2013’s biggest media fails:
CNN – Navy Yard and Sandy Hook Shootings:
In what the Daily Show lampooned as Wrongnado, CNN combined the reporting sophistication of a small child with the coordination of a hockey brawl. During CNN’s coverage of the Navy Yard Shooting on September 16 the news network brought hundreds of thousands of viewers frantic and poorly investigated news.
To which Stewart replied, “Yes, correct. They can be very, very wrong. So don’t say them out loud.”
When juxtaposed with its Sandy Hook shooting coverage from January, Stewart’s appraisal of CNN’s modus operandi is not without merit:
“All of yesterday’s confusion in the reporting, it’s not a mistake… There are a ton of really smart people and good journalists who work at CNN, and this is only 5 months after all the criticism over CNN’s chaotic Boston terrorism coverage, including when they announced on-air an arrest that had not happened. So my final, not initial, conclusion is this is deliberate. The chaos. The vomit-onto-the screen. The very thing we thought news organizations were created to clarify is a feature not a bug.”
New York Post – Boston Bombing
In a true to form following of CNN’s propensity to misreport and jump to conclusions before having all the facts, the New York Post made a dangerous mistake during its coverage of the Boston Bombing in April. On the 18, 3 days after the attack, the New York Post ran a front-page story alluding that the two individuals pictured therein were the perpetrators.
One of the accused was harassed on social media shortly after the story ran and had to go to law enforcement and ABC to clear his name. New York Post editor, Col Allan, later released a statement saying he stood by the article and seemed unconcerned about the misleading nature of its context.
He told Politico, “The image was emailed to law enforcement agencies yesterday afternoon seeking information about these men, as our story reported. We did not identify them as suspects.”
KTVU – Asiana Flight 214
Oakland local news station KTVU was catapulted into national headlines in July when it combined bad taste and bad timing when covering the fatal Asiana Airline crash. The incident killed 2 and injured over 100 people.
Three producers were fired, but not after the mistake went viral. The initial broadcast quickly drew millions of hits and the Oakland news station apologized profusely.
60 Minutes – Benghazi
Probably the last major media mess-up of 2013 is the 60 Minutes report by Lara Logan on Benghazi. The report aired in late October and relied heavily on an ‘ex-security officer’ Morgan Jones, later revealed to be Dylan Davies. Logan’s report misreported Davies’ baseless rendition of the events surrounding the September 11, 2012 attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi.
Shortly thereafter, CBS aired a correction where Logan apologized and was then placed on a leave of absence.
Check out the media fails of 2012!