CNN broadcast on Friday (September Eleven, 2009) that the Coastguard had fired on some vessel (without checking those facts first). Had I heard that report, I’d probably have believed it – but should I have? Turned out that report was wrong!
NO shots were fired; there was NO suspicious vessel and too many “Unidentified” sources.
Here’s what apparently happened (as far as I can glean from reading about it, which I believe, sucker that I am!). My reconstruction can’t be more wrong than CNN, I hope.
Most newsrooms have radio scanners they use to monitor police communications.
The Coast Guard happened to be running a training exercise on the Potomac River on Friday, (8th anniversary of the September Eleven, 2001 attacks). Around 10:00 AM, CNN apparently heard some reference to that exercise, which led them to think that a vessel was being intercepted.
CNN did not wait to check with the coastguard (because I guess if it waited it would lose its “scoop”) so at 10:05 it fired off a shot of its own: A BREAKING NEWS headline about the Coast Guard firing on a “SUSPICIOUS VESSEL” on the Potomac River in Washington DC!
Reuters News Agency saw the bulletin, (did not check with the Coast Guard, because how can CNN be wrong?) and picked it up. They were at least smart enough to say the news came from CNN!
Fox News (did not check with the Coast Guard (and was probably already looking for ways to blame President Obama). It too rushed to report that shots had been fired, and cited Reuters as its source.
About 15 minutes later, concerned viewers learned it was a media faux pas: A Coast Guard training exercise. No shots were ever fired. CNN had simply heard some person/persons on a radio scanner talking about shots being fired.
And so the public thinks: “Hey, if you can screw this up…?”
Yet, when I hear something on 60 Minutes (CBS), I will swear by it. So there’s news and there’s news!
The Pew Research Center published a study on Sunday, (9/13/2009) that shows just 29-percent of Americans think news organizations generally get the facts straight. 63-percent say news stories are often inaccurate.
(The biennial media attitudes survey by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press was conducted July 22-26 among roughly 15-hundred adults.)
60-percent say news organizations are politically biased. 26-percent think news organizations are NOT politically biased in their reporting.
Republicans are getting more highly critical of the news media in nearly all respects. But Democrats are catching up! The Pew survey finds Democratic criticism of the news media has grown by double-digits since 2007. Other findings:
72-percent of Republicans have a GOOD impression of Fox News. Just 43-percent of Democrats have a good impression. Independents – 55 percent.
13-percent of Republicans have a BAD impression of Fox News. Just 36-percent of Democrats have a bad impression. Independents – 24 percent.
34-percent of Republicans have a GOOD impression of MSNBC. Just 60-percent of Democrats have a good impression. Independents – 47 percent.
35-percent of Republicans have a BAD impression of MSNBC. Just 07-percent of Democrats have a bad impression. Independents – 20 percent.
There are many ways to look at those figures. (That’s called Spin). One way:
• More independents hate FOX than they hate MSNBC.
• The gap between Independents who like FOX (higher) and those who like MSNBC is just 8-percent.
• Add Democrats and Independents together and about half like Fox but slightly more like MSNBC.
• Add them together and more than a third of them hate Fox…about one sixth hate MSNBC.
Tomorrow we look at the Ratings Game that networks play: More people are watching my show! More people are not watching your show! YOU JUST HAVE A BIGGER “SINGLE BLOCK OF PEOPLE” WATCHING YOUR SHOW.