Memo to CNN: Use Your Brain(s)

You may have caught an erroneous news report this morning, first reported by CNN, that a U.S. Coast Guard vessel had fired upon a threatening vessel in the Potomac River in Washington, DC. According to these initial reports, the skirmish happened around the time that President Barack Obama (D) was very close by at the Pentagon. As a result of the ‘incident’ departures were halted at nearby Reagan National Airport for twenty minutes.

The problem? There was no incident, there were no shots fired, and nothing newsworthy was happening.

Indeed, there were Coast Guard vessels on the Potomac . . . engaged in a regular, low-profile training exercise. As part of the exercise, Coast Guardsmen were communicating on a radio training frequency. Apparently somebody monitoring this frequency heard the exercise chatter—including a report of shots fired (complete with Coast Guardsmen saying, “bang, bang” to represent gun fire . . . no kidding). Apparently the folks at CNN couldn’t be bothered to ask, say, the Coast Guard was happening before reporting about this supposed incident on the river, and a media frenzy ensued.

Reporting a minor training exercise as a possible terrorist attack without any verification whatsover is, plain and simple, bad journalism.

Scott Bradford has been putting his opinions on his website since 1995—before most people knew what a website was. He has been a professional web developer in the public- and private-sector for over twenty years. He is an independent constitutional conservative who believes in human rights and limited government, and a Catholic Christian whose beliefs are summarized in the Nicene Creed. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration from George Mason University. He loves Pink Floyd and can play the bass guitar . . . sort-of. He’s a husband, pet lover, amateur radio operator, and classic AMC/Jeep enthusiast.