In what may be a news flash for some, the floor of the New York Stock Exchange is dry. Or at least not under multiple feet of water.
That, anyway, was the report going around on Monday night, courtesy of CNN. According to a CNN spokeswoman, network meteorologist Chad Myers said on Piers Morgan’s show that there were three feet of water on the floor of the exchange. Moments later, some doubt creeped into the messaging:
Piers Morgan: You have an update on the stock exchange situation. Do we still think that three feet of water got into the exchange? There seem to be conflicting reports now.
Chad Myers: Oh, is that right? You know, I got that from the National Weather Service chat bulletin board. It was right on there; it said three feet of water on the floor. I don’t know if there’s conflicting reports or not.
Piers Morgan: It’s a lot of chaos out there, a lot of reports flying around.
Chad Myers: Of course, power’s out, lights are out; phones are probably not working. I don’t know. I will clear it up, though, I will figure it out whether that happened or not.
The “news,” of course, bounced around social media pretty heavily. With virtually everything else in lower Manhattan undergoing submersion, why wouldn’t the New York Stock Exchange?
Only it wasn’t. NYSE officials denied it, and CNN issued a correction.
Says CNN spokeswoman Bridget Leininger: “Chad referenced a National Weather Service report that turned out to be incorrect. We quickly made an on air correction. We regret the error.” Shortly thereafter, Leininger clarified that the report was indeed from the “chat bulletin board” that Myers had mentioned on air.
CORRECTED: #NYSE officials reporting that floor is NOT flooding at this time.— CNN Public Relations (@CNNPR) October 30, 2012
Chris Vaccaro, a spokesman for the National Weather Service, dismisses via e-mail any notion that his people would have undergirded such a report. “I know for sure we would not have been the original source of that information. Our offices and employees are all out on eastern LI.” He elaborates, noting that his understanding is that “those reports originated via social media from local NYC media. That report was then mentioned in a forecast oriented chat room discussion. But the NWS is not the direct source of the report.”
What a great time to cover media.
As for CNN’s work, there’s a vast, churning, flooding ocean of difference between a bona fide report from the National Weather Service and a chat bulletin hosted on the site of the National Weather Service. It’s precisely this sort of distinction that we trust CNN to police and filter before repeating on air. Based on the rumor, CNN people went on something of a riffing expedition, as well. According to Poynter.org, Morgan even asked colleague Erin Burnett about the upshot of an NYSE flooding incident, to which Burnett responded, “It’s a wooden floor, and it’s a historic building — the damage it could do would be amazing.”
Tweets on the allegedly slushy stock floor also implicated the Weather Channel in the bogosity. Shirley Powell, a spokeswoman for the channel, says it didn’t fully embrace the report: “We were hearing reports on it and asked a CNBC reporter live on our air about it and he told us that was not what he was seeing. Normal reporting.”
UPDATE 7:50 a.m.: CNN’s Piers Morgan and Chad Myers addressed the matter again during the midnight show:
Piers Morgan: Chad, you’ve been tracking this all day, all night at CNN Weather Center. Lots of crazy stuff going on, crazy rumors flying around. Bring me up to speed with where we are with it all.
Chad Myers: Well, you know, the one thing that I’m focusing on now is that report from the National Weather Service, an official report that said there was three feet of water in the New York Stock Exchange. That would have been devastating to have those people out of work for so long. It turned out to be a false report. It was a National Service Report and I reported it and I completely regret that error on your show earlier, Piers, but I don’t question when they say there’s fourteen inches of snow in West Virginia. I believe their report when the weather service says something. I believe them, but anyway… .
So now we’re back to an “official” report from the National Weather Service. More to come, for sure.
UPDATE 8:25 a.m.: NWS’s Vaccaro has a fuller summation of how the madness arose:
The report came from local NYC media and appeared in a Local Storm Report from NWS, which summarizes area impacts. In that report the information regarding the NYSE was attributed to “media” accordingly. Once that flooding information was determined to be false, the report was updated with that removed.
More on this: BuzzFeed’s ubiquitous Andrew Kaczynski reports on the Twitter activity of one @ComfortablySmug, who appears to have claimed his share of false-rumor generation last night: “He reported, falsely, on a total blackout in Manhattan, on a flood on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, and other things that didn’t happen,” writes Kaczynski.
UPDATE 6:25 p.m.: We’ve compiled a timeline of some of the most influential tweets that impacted the spread (and ultimately dispelling) of the #NYSE rumor, below.