The FBI scolded news outlets for mistakenly reporting that an arrest had been made in the Boston Marathon bombings, and warned that such unverified reporting could have “unintended consequences” for its investigation, the New York Times reports. Many organizations, including The Associated Press, the Boston Globe, and local Boston television stations, erroneously reported yesterday that an arrest had been made, or that a suspect was in custody, citing unnamed law enforcement sources. Two of the reports came from CNN and the Fox News Channel, both the subject of widespread criticism last June after misreporting the result of the Supreme Court ruling on President Obama's health care law.
CNN and Fox News spent about an hour discussing the news of an arrest with various correspondents and experts before backing off when they received further information. CNN said the suspect was “a dark-skinned male.” The Associated Press said both that a suspect was about to be arrested, and was in custody. Judy Muller, a former network news correspondent who teaches journalism at the University of Southern California, said, “I fear we have permanently entered the Age of the Retraction. All the lessons of the past — from Richard Jewell to NPR's announcement of the death of Gabby Giffords to CNN's erroneous report on the Supreme Court Ruling on ObamaCare — fail to inform the present. The rush to be first has so thoroughly swallowed up the principle of being right and first that it seems a little egg on the face is now deemed worth the risk.”