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 . . .). 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.