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Boston arrest: How US media messed it up

india Updated: Apr 19, 2013 01:21 IST
Hindustan Times
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Hunt for the Boston bomber turned into a media circus on Wednesday with the news channels racing to announce that an arrest had been made and then, just as quickly reeling it back.

CNN began the day with a story saying the investigators had found the lid of one of the pressure cookers, used as bombs, on the roof of a building at the blast site.

That was indeed a scoop. As was its next news break: the bomber(s) had been identified in a video recording from the surveillance camera of a store across the street. That also turned out to be a fair story, holding up for the rest of the day. Rest of the US media picked it up, first attributing it to CNN and then confirming it, citing their respective sources.

CNN then reported that the bomber had been arrested. The wire service Associated Press (AP) had the alert sent out around the same time, 2:02 pm Eastern Time (IST 11:32 pm): “Law enforcement official: Boston Marathon bomber suspect in custody, expected in federal court.”

Fox News followed up. But in 45 minutes the ‘big scoop’ was dead. AP’s alert at 2:47 pm (IST 12:17 am) read: “Federal officials deny that Boston Marathon bombing suspect is in custody.”