John King on CNN Error: "It's Embarrassing"

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
April 23 2013 2:04 PM

John King on CNN Boston Bombing Error: "It's Embarrassing"

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Journalist John King attends Comedy Central's night of too many stars

Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images

How does CNN's John King, a Boston native, feel about wrongly reporting last Wednesday that police had arrested a suspect in the marathon bombing when in fact it would be another two days before the case cracked wide open? It's a "double kick in the head," he said in a radio interview today.

In case you've forgotten, CNN was the first of a handful of media outlets to report last Wednesday, citing anonymous sources, that a suspect had been identified and arrested. That story, of course, turned out to be false. And while many news sources, including the Associated Press, were caught up in the "fact" chaos, John King was the first and the most visible media personality to fill airtime with the inaccurate information.

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So on Tuesday, King addressed the error, telling WTOP that:

"I've been at this for nearly 30 years ... I've covered a couple wars and a lot of breaking news and a lot of cops-and-robbers situations. I've got a pretty good track record, but when you do something like this it's embarrassing.
"The bigger part, beyond being personally embarrassing, is it's tough for your viewers, who you want to trust you," he continued. "So the one thing you do have to do is look in the camera and say, 'We were wrong,' and try to explain why we were wrong. In this case we had two reputable sources—one of mine, one of a colleague's of mine—who have been reliable in the past, who simply had bad information. We had two— you never do that with one—and we went with it, and we had to correct it."

The CNN correspondent added, "But it's my city, too, so it's sort of a double kick-in-the-head to me." Listen to the full interview at WTOP, or check out the highlights below, via Politico:

Abby Ohlheiser is a Slate contributor.

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