Told ya so, Part 1: CNN says "just kidding" after terror scare

Tuesday July 31, 2007

Also, you should remember all that talk earlier this week about the terrorist dry runs at airports here in the U.S. Well, just kidding. It turns out it was all one big false alarm. We'll explain.

-- CNN anchor T.J. Holmes, at the top of Saturday morning newscast (via Nexis).

We hate to say we told you so, but....we told you so: Those terrorist "dry runs" at airports that bumped a slew of bad news for President Bush off the front page and scared a lot of summer vacationers in the process, were, as CNN itself confessed in a different report, "bogus":

(CNN reporter Brian) TODD: In fact, a U.S. government official familiar with the investigation now says there were valid explanations for all four incidents in that bulletin and no charges will be brought in any of these cases.

(on camera): TSA officials first told us the incident with Sara Weiss got put on that bulletin because of a systems error. But they also say they were right to put all these incidents on that alert because whenever they find suspicious objects, they have to run them to ground and tell law enforcement officials to look out for items like that.

The story also featured an interview with Weiss (pictured at top), the 66-year-old woman who had a leaky ice pack in her luggage visiting family in San Diego, and she confirmed that a federal agent asked her: "Do you know Osama bin Laden?" And you thought the government had stopped looking for him!

After searching the site, I did find a link to a video of Todd's report.

Two things here:

One, I generally like CNN anchor Holmes and his occasionally "flip" attitude today the news, but "just kidding"? How about, "we're sorry"? CNN in particular, had run wild with this story last week, when a lot more people are watching than on a Saturday morning.

Which is the other thing here: Not only did CNN air it's "just kidding" report over the weekend, when few folks are watching, but a visit to the online news section of its popular Web site finds the original scare story about terrorist "dry runs," but no mention of the later mea culpa. So they corrected the story quickly over the disappearing airwaves -- but except for diligent online searchers who could dig up that short video, they pretty much sent it right down the memory hole. In fact, a Google news search for "terrorist" and "dry run" mostly only turns up the original "news," not the debunking. The main exception is this story on the progressive news site, Raw Story.

Even though they were likely misled by government sources, CNN should still apologize for airing bad information, and correct it in the public record that matters most in 2007, and that is the Internet.

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