Yesterday I talked about the horrendous coverage of the Trayvon Martin case by much of the mainstream media. How, now, they’re walking a back much of what they claimed in stories they aired or wrote. About how both NBC and ABC had abused anything called objective and/or unbiased reporting with NBC’s purposeful re-editing of a 911 tape to make Zimmerman sound racist and ABC’s false claims concerning a lack of injuries to Zimmerman as well as claiming he made a racial slur on the 911 call.
Not to mention the NY Daily News’ claim that Neo-Nazis were patrolling Sanford FL, a completely false rumor a simple check with the Sanford Police Dept. would have revealed (as a blogger proved).
It took only two minutes. An unfounded report on a little-known blog claiming that Gov. Nikki R. Haley was about to be indicted rocketed from South Carolina political circles into national circulation, along the way becoming the latest lesson in the perils of an instantaneous news culture.
Well, no, that’s not the peril. The peril is forgetting to do what journalists and editors are supposed to do and that is check their sources and get confirmation before going with a story.
But again, at numerous main stream media organizations, those three levels of editors came up with a big #FAIL.
But journalists from news outlets that reposted Mr. Smith’s report on Twitter — including establishments old and venerable (The Washington Post, CBS News) as well as new and widely read (The Huffington Post and BuzzFeed) — had no way of knowing that in the minutes after it went online, and did not stop to check first.
March 29, 12:52 p.m.: The Palmetto Public Record publishes an article online with the headline “Haley indictment imminent? Stay tuned. …” It cites two unidentified “well-placed legal experts” who said they expected the federal Department of Justice to indict Ms. Haley “as early as this week” on charges stemming from her involvement with a local Sikh temple.
12:54 p.m.: A blogger for The Hill, a Washington newspaper that focuses on government and politics, sends a Twitter post about the article to his 1,500 followers, who include several prominent political journalists with large Twitter followings that reach into the tens of thousands. Some then repost the item — BuzzFeed just two minutes later; The Washington Post 18 minutes after that.
1:03 p.m.: The Daily Beast posts a short article, which it later removes, about the Palmetto Public Record report, becoming one of many online outlets to write lengthier items, including Daily Kos and The Daily Caller. Headlines like one on the Atlantic Wire’s post, “Nikki Haley Probably Won’t Win Republican Veepstakes,” are common.
1:12 p.m.: A USA Today reporter contacts Ms. Haley’s office with a request for comment, the first of dozens of such inquiries that will deluge the governor and her staff for the rest of the day.
1:22 p.m.: The Romney campaign, which is reported to be considering Ms. Haley as one of many possible vice-presidential choices, receives a request for comment from ABC News.
1:25 p.m.: Mr. Smith seems bemused by all the attention his report is getting, posting on Twitter: “Well, now I know what it’s like to watch a story go viral in real time.”
3:29 p.m.: Matt Drudge, whose heavily visited Drudge Report can help drive decisions in newsrooms around the country, links to a Daily Caller article under the headline “REPORT: DOJ targets S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley.”
And none of it was true.
Not everyone pushed it out there though:
“I saw the original Tweets, and my first thought was that I’d never heard of the Web site that reported it,” said Byron York, the chief political correspondent for The Washington Examiner. Mr. York, a prolific Twitter poster, decided not to send the item out to his 30,000 followers. “It was a pretty easy decision to stay away from it,” he said.
Uh, no it wasn’t that easy, Byron … see the rumor mongers above who couldn’t resist. Not that repeated failures by the main stream media will at any point lesson the condescending lectures we’ll continue to get from them about why they’re so superior to blogs. Will these repeated failures on the part of the media prompt any soul searching? Has it in the past?
More importantly, given their part is spreading a false rumor one has to ask, where does Gov. Haley go to get her reputation back, media?