CNN and other outlets found themselves with egg on their face when they reported that an arrest had been made in the Boston bombings and were then forced to walk that news back.
Though it was not alone, CNN took the brunt of the blame for its faulty reporting. It was the first and most prominent outlet to tout its scoop.
The network's John King, citing multiple sources, said that an arrest had been made. Fran Townsend, a contributor to the network, also said it had been made.
The Boston Globe agreed. Fox News also reported an arrest. The Associated Press did so as well.
Leading the way in its dispute of that story was NBC News. Citing multiple federal sources, the network's Pete Williams said, "No arrest has been made."
"The FBI is looking for someone. They have a face. They don't know where he is," Williams said.
CBS News also tweeted that no arrest had been made.
Some minutes later, CNN suddenly appeared to be walking back its story:
CNN starts walking it back: 'this may look very different in about an hour if we learn that there's been no arrest.'— HuffPost Media (@HuffPostMedia) April 17, 2013
CNN's John King: 'an arrest has been made.' CNN's Chris Cuomo: 'they could bring him in without an arrest.'— HuffPost Media (@HuffPostMedia) April 17, 2013
Eventually, Tom Fuentes, a former FBI agent, came on CNN. He reported that not only had no arrest been made, but that there was not even anyone in custody.
"Initial reports, so often are wrong," Anderson Cooper said mournfully.
The AP, Globe and Fox News eventually joined CNN in walking back their story.
The Boston Police department then sealed the deal by tweeting that no arrest had been made.
For CNN and Fox News, the botched reporting will be a painful reminder of their last high-profile failure, when they incorrectly said that the Supreme Court had overturned the Affordable Care Act.
UPDATE: A CNN spokesperson defended the network's handling of the story in a statement sent to HuffPost's Michael Calderone:
"CNN had three credible sources on both local and federal levels. Based on this information we reported our findings. As soon as our sources came to us with new information we adjusted our reporting."
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