September 16, 2013

 

All those millions of people unlucky enough to have been watching Fox News’s “Special Report with Bret Baier” this evening saw a frightening chyron on their screen:

“GUN INCIDENT AT WHITE HOUSE”

And here’s how host Bret Baier fleshed things out:

This is a Fox News alert. You’re looking live at the White House. We are just getting a report of some kind of commotion. We are getting a report from our own Ed Henry who is now running to the camera position that someone pulled a weapon of some type and gunmen have engaged this person. Now, we don’t know exactly what this is. There is some kind of incident occurring at the White House right now and we wanted to bring it to you as this day has been very tense here in Washington, D.C., as security has been stepped up, not only at the U.S. Capitol but all around….We will monitor this and see if we can bring you any information.

Fox News Twitter followers might have seen the tweet at the top of this post, from “Fox News confirms – shots fired outside the White House just moments ago…” That came from the “Fox News/Shep Staff” Twitter handle. As reported last week, Fox News host Shepard Smith and his crack staff of news-breaking masters are due to slide into a larger role in guiding the network’s coverage whenever big news breaks.

From the looks of things, they’ll be needing some practice. Because that “GUN INCIDENT AT WHITE HOUSE?” Turned out to have been a guy with some firecrackers, as Fox News itself later reported. From the Fox report: “Although the sounds outside the northwest gate were initially described as sounding like gunshots, a US Secret Service official said it was firecrackers and no gun was found.”

An inquiry to Fox News about how it processed its initial report didn’t receive an immediate reply.

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.