MSNBC hosts Al Sharpton and Chris Hayes tore into CNN's John King on Thursday for his botched reporting on the Boston bombing suspect--and, especially, for his comments that a "dark-skinned male" was being sought by investigators.
King was the most prominent reporter to say that authorities had arrested someone in connection with the bombings. This turned out to be completely false. But, before he said that, he repeatedly told viewers that a "dark-skinned male" was apparently at large and being hunted down. King said he did not want to be more descriptive than that because of "sensitivities," but many people criticized him sharply for even bringing up race and skin color. PBS' Gwen Ifill, for instance, called it "disturbing."
Because NBC News got the story of the arrests right, its hosts were free to condemn King. On his show, Sharpton called his comments "coded, offensive language," and said they had "no place" in the national discourse.
"What King's words did is to make every dark-skinned male in Boston a suspect, and that's shameful," he said.
Hayes also lit into King.
"Just explain to me what news value exists in the adjective dark-skinned," he said. "What exactly is newsworthy that is communicated in that phrase? ... That phrase is not there to convey journalistic information. What dark-skinned actually communicates with a wink and a nod is, "aha! All you folks who thought it was a bad Muslim who did this, you nailed it."
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