CNN is still a laughing stock.
The network’s botched coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings has been golden fodder for late night talk show hosts and the network’s competitors. Even President Obama took a swipe at the network during this week’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner.
“I know CNN has taken some knocks lately, but the fact is, I admire their commitment to covering all sides of the story, just in case one of them happens to be accurate,” the president said to laughs at the April 27 event.
First, the network erroneously reported that law enforcement officials had made an arrest in the case. Then, CNN veteran John King announced on live television that authorities were seeking a “dark-skinned male” in connection to the crime.
Of course, King was wrong. The alleged bombers are white as snow. We wonder what riles him most – the fact that he was left with egg on his face for being factually wrong or that he placed hundreds of thousands of men of color under undue suspicion with his bad information?
The latter, we believe, is downright shameful. King’s journalistic legacy will survive a bad source or two, but his dark-skinned male quip will follow him forever.
Even if King’s source had been correct, a description of a “dark-skinned male” does nothing to help the public be proactive, it only drives home ugly stereotypes. King’s on-air description made Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick and the state’s new U.S. senator, Mo Cowan, possible suspects.
King’s CNN colleague Wolf Blitzer stood beside King as he gave the purely useless “dark-skinned male” info and said nothing.
It is at such times when racial diversity is especially important. In recent months, CNN has been criticized for dumping its black talent. Roland Martin’s contract was not renewed; and Soledad O’Brien was booted from her early morning anchoring gig in favor of the very white Erin Burnett. We are sure that O’Brien or Martin would have checked King had either of them been by his side.