KURTZ: Let me come back to what happened on Wednesday. This was on my view a significant mistake that unfortunately marred what has been a solid week of coverage by CNN — to examine CNN for a moment. You had a lot of boots on the ground and elsewhere.
But — and the ratings have been huge so people are still tuning in — but let’s also point out that unlike in the Richard Jewell case and lot of other cases I can mention. That report didn’t slander anyone. Nobody was named. It was just a story about an arrest that did not happen.
My question is what if John King’s sources had been right? And what if he had gotten it first and then 10, 20 minutes, other organizations had gotten it, and the Boston police announced there was an arrest?
LAUREN ASHBURN (FOUNDER, DAILY DOWNLOAD): He’d be a hero.
KURTZ: He’d be a hero.
WEMPLE: I do not think he would be a hero. I do not think he would be a hero. I think we would have forgotten about it.
KURTZ: Is that a good enough scoop to take the risk of the downside that you might be wrong?
WEMPLE: And the big problem we’re not mentioning here is the dark skin moment, where he felt compelled to bring out this detail that the suspect was dark-skinned. And he had said that he had withheld several other details, but he decided to spill that one on us. I didn’t see what possible use that was.
KURTZ: All right. King says that he was simply repeating what law enforcement sources told him.
But now, let’s look at why there’s so much attention on CNN. Look, it was very prominent. It went on for about 45 minutes to an hour.
But as we mentioned, “Associated Press”, “Boston Globe”, local Boston TV station, also got it wrong, yet CNN seems to have gotten most attention.
Joe Concha, why is that?
JOE CONCHA: Well, because CNN, Jeff Zucker said this earlier in the week, it’s a spare tire —
KURTZ: Chief executive of CNN.
CONCHA: Yes, exactly. It’s the spare tire in the car. So when a big news story breaks, you know, let’s go to CNN because they are the best at breaking news. They always have been.
June 21, 2013 at 7:47 PM EDT