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Posts Tagged ‘Pete Williams’

NSA/Verizon Story Spurs New Round Of Privacy Coverage on TV

A report from The Guardian‘s Glenn Greenwald, which reveals that the NSA has been securing mobile phone data from millions of its customers, has spurred a new round of privacy coverage on cable news.

NBC’s Pete Williams reported today on MSNBC that the Department of Justice will “very likely” investigate the leak. On “CBS This Morning,” senior correspondent John Miller–who used to work for the government in a national security role–explained the justification for why the government may want to secure the data.

CNN’s Jake Tapper tweeted today that he has secured the first TV interview with Greenwald, which will air during “The Lead” today at 4 PM.

Following the coverage of the AP records seizure, the James Rosen/Fox News investigation and the high-profile meetings Attorney General Holder took with news organizations, this is poised to become yet another privacy story to dominate the news cycle.

NBC News Partnering With SCOTUSblog Publisher For Supreme Court Coverage

NBC News is partnering with the publisher of SCOTUSblog to cover the upcoming Supreme Court decisions.

As part of the deal, SCOTUSblog publisher Tom Goldstein will become a contributor to NBC News, appearing on-air and writing for NBCNews.com and MSNBC.com through the end of the current term. The network is quick to point out that justice correspondent Pete Williams won’t be going anywhere.

“It is an honor to work so closely with NBC News and Pete Williams during such a historic time at the Supreme Court,” said Goldstein in a statement. “Bringing SCOTUSblog to the attention of the network’s huge and well-informed audience is a tremendous opportunity for us.”

SCOTUSblog has quickly earned a name for itself as one of the fastest and most reliable sources of news and analysis when it comes to the Supreme Court. Last year, when CNN and Fox News incorrectly reported the outcome of the healthcare decision, FNC’s Megyn Kelly saw SCOTUSblog’s take, prompting a correction. It also wrote the definitive story on what happened that day.

As it happens, SCOTUSblog is sponsored by NBC competitor Bloomberg, which has a long and complicated history with its parent company Comcast.

More information below.
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Bill O’Reilly Doesn’t Think the AP Phone Taps Will ‘Amount to Much’

When a media outlet becomes the news, it’s interesting to watch how other media outlets cover the story. At issue today, the Justice Department admitting it secretly recorded phone conversations of five AP reporters and an editor. It was a big story on all the morning shows. (We already told you about the reaction on “Morning Joe” from the AP’s executive editor.) On “CBS This Morning” Bob Orr called it “a very aggressive investigation.” On the “Today” show Pete Williams called it “an unusually broad government effort.” But on “Good Morning America,” Fox News host Bill O’Reilly said this may be the least of Pres. Obama’s worries.

“I don’t think that’s going to amount to much,” O’Reilly said of the phone taps. “It looks like they went through the warrant process and they had authorization to look at these records — the Justice Department did. But president Obama, he’s got some problems now. He better start to get control of the situation because there’s a lot of stuff going on.”

How CBS’ John Miller Stood Out During Boston Bombing Coverage

While much has been made of the mistakes that were reported during the aftermath of the Boston bombings, the general consensus among media watchers has been that two journalists stood out for their accuracy and informative reports: NBC’s Pete Williams and CBS’ John Miller.

Miller gets a lengthy profile from the AP on how he got so much right. The short version: experience working for law enforcement agencies, and exceptional sources.

“Sources are people you meet on other stories and you develop them into sources of information,” he said. “I’m calling friends, and I’m asking them, ‘What’s happening here?

For his part, Miller said, “I am reluctant to criticize authorities.”

“My interpretation of when they need to be (criticized) and somebody else’s might be different,” he said. “If you’ve been there and you know how that works and what it’s like, and how easy it is to take potshots from the outside, your criticism is more measured, your analysis of what is worthy of criticism and what isn’t is slightly different.”

John King: Mistakes Last Week Were ‘Embarrassing’

CNN’s John King appeared on Washington DC talk radio station WTOP this morning, and the subject of his reporting last week was a big part of the conversation.

King, among other reporters at other outlets, reported that Boston police had a suspect in custody. A half hour later, as other outlets (notably NBC’s Pete Williams) contradicted that report, King and CNN contributor Fran Townsend began to walk it back.

In the WTOP interview, as transcribed by Politico’s Dylan Byers, King said the error was “embarrassing”:

“The bigger part, beyond being personally embarrassing, is it’s tough for your viewers, who you want to trust you,” he continued. “So the one thing you do have to do is look in the camera and say, ‘We were wrong,’ and try to explain why we were wrong. In this case we had two reputable sources — one of mine, one of a colleague’s of mine — who have been reliable in the past, who simply had bad information. We had two — you never do that with one — and we went with it, and we had to correct it.”

It was also personal:
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Pete Williams Doesn’t Need No Stinkin’ Twitter

The spotlight is on NBC’s humble justice correspondent Pete Williams whose reporting throughout the week and into this morning on the Boston Marathon blasts has been spot on. And he doesn’t need Twitter to do it. Williams is on Twitter, but, despite amassing 18,000 followers, he doesn’t Tweet much (18 times total). The last time was March 22, in the days before Supreme Court arguments on two gay marriage cases.

In a story on Williams this morning, Politico‘s Dylan Byers recounts a moment in the NBC bureau in Washington yesterday when a staffer told Williams he was trending on Twitter. “Williams laughed and replied: ‘I don’t want to be trending on anything!’” HuffPost‘s Jack Mirkinson and NationalJournal‘s Brian Resnick add to the Williams admiration. Writes Resnick:

In a media environment when fewer and fewer reporters operate on narrow, stable beats, when everyone is a “generalist” aggregating the same information everyone else has, Williams’s deep reporting background is invaluable. And members of the media—from other outlets nonetheless—easily recognized that.

An Arrest in Boston Blasts? Depends Which Network You’re Watching

Around 1:30 this afternoon, CNN’s John King went on the air reporting from one of his sources that a suspect in the Boston blasts has been identified. Fox News’s Catherine Herridge reported the news moments later: “Fox confirming that the feds have an image which would suggest that a suspect at that second bombing site.” But on MSNBC, NBC’s longtime Justice correspondent Pete Williams broke in to Andrea Mitchell‘s show, to temper reports: “It bears repeating perhaps because of some reporting that’s going on about a suspect … we’re told they’ve identified a number of people in these pictures they’ve looked at that could be potentially folks they want to pursue… but to say they have a suspect is not correct at this point.”

That didn’t slow the reporting on CNN and Fox News. By 1:50pm, Wolf Blitzer, along with King, was reporting an arrest had been made. Fox News, too, reported an arrest. NBC News went so far as to produce a network special report, anchored by Brian Williams — which aired on MSNBC — with Pete Williams again reporting, “No arrest has been made.”

Williams added, “It’s rather confusing at this point. Partly because of the nomenclature here. One person’s item of interest is another person’s suspect. I would take a step back and say whatever is going on, it is a promising development.”

Stay tuned.

> Update: At 2:21 on Fox News, Megyn Kelly reported: “This is the situation we find ourselves in, folks. We got different law enforcement officers telling us different things. Two said to (Foxnews.com) that an arrest has been made. And now two are telling us no arrest has been made.”

> Update: At 2:28 on CNN, former FBI assistant director Tom Fuentes contradicted CNN’s reporting: “I have actually three separate sources, but two that are very highly placed and close to the investigation that have just told me that there has been no arrest, and, in fact, a suspect has not been identified by name yet, that they have — they’re looking for someone, but don’t have anybody in custody yet and don’t have an identification.”

> Update: John King on CNN at 2:46: “Part of this reflects on us, part of it also reflects on people you talk to, reliable sources, and Fran Townsend is one of our finest people, Boston law enforcement source saying we got it. When you have people who have been reliable sources if they’re ahead of themselves, we need to circle with them. We need to figure this out ourselves.”

> More: A CNN spokesperson tells HuffPost’s Michael Calderone: “CNN had three credible sources on both local and federal levels. Based on this information we reported our findings. As soon as our sources came to us with new information we adjusted our reporting.”

Expanded Evening Newscasts After Deadly Explosions Rock Boston Marathon

All three evening newscasts were expanded Monday after a pair of explosions killed at least two people at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

The newscasts began shortly after President Obama addressed the nation from the White House press briefing room at 6:10pmET. NBC’s Brian Williams, ABC’s Diane Sawyer and CBS’ Scott Pelley had been anchoring coverage on their respective networks since the news broke shortly after 3pmET. ABC News and NBC News took brief breaks from their respective special reports just before the official start of the evening newscasts at 6:30pmET.

CBS News had Terrell Brown reporting from the scene and Don Dahler reporting from Massachusetts General Hospital. At the beginning of “Evening News,” correspondent John Miller took a few minutes to “clarify all these reports we’re seeing about a suspect in the media.” Saying he wanted to “proceed very carefully from here on out,” Miller reported that the person who was detained is a Saudi national who was seen running from the scene. “That may mean a lot, that may mean nothing at all,” Miller cautioned, noting that many people were running away from the blasts.

On NBC News, Williams was joined by Katy Tur in Boston, Chuck Todd from Washington D.C. and Pete Williams on the Boston police investigation. Williams interviewed an eyewitness, Serdar Ozturk, who saw the explosion from the finish line. “People’s faces instantly changed from smile to tears, and fear,” he told Williams. “People started running for their lives.”

ABC News had reports from senior national correspondent Jim Avila, senior Justice correspondent Pierre Thomas and Linsey Davis from the scene. Sawyer also checked in with Alex Perez in Chicago and Cecelia Vega in Los Angeles about security precautions in place in those two cities. “World News” ended with a montage of still photos from the scene. “We thank you so much for watching tonight,” Sawyer said. “Boston, as you know, is one of America’s great cities, filled with resilience and spirit. So on this day, when something terrible happened, we wanted to remind you of all those who rushed to help.”

All three networks have more extended coverage planned. Williams will anchor a special report at 10pmET on NBC, Terry Moran will anchor “Nightline” live at 12:35amET on ABC, and Pelley remained on the air with “Evening News” through 8pmET.

Explosions at Finish Line of the Boston Marathon

The cable news networks pivoted to breaking news in Massachusetts shortly after 3pmET Monday afternoon as two explosions went off at the finish line of the Boston Marathon.

Fox News was the first cable news network to report the news at 3:06:18 p.m., followed just seconds later by CNN at 3:06:53 p.m. MSNBC reported the news at 3:08:45 p.m. All three cable news networks were several minutes minutes behind the first reports of the explosions on Twitter.

Fox News and CNN are relying on live pictures from Boston local stations. MSNBC has video from New England Cable News, which is owned and operated by NBC Universal.

> More: The broadcast networks also broke in with news of the explosions. CBS News was first at 3:10pmET, followed by ABC News and NBC News at 3:13 p.m. Scott Pelley is anchoring on CBS, Brian Williams on NBC and Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos on ABC.

> More: Matt Frucci, the incoming executive producer of CNN’s new morning show, is doing eyewitness reports from the scene for the network. Wolf Blitzer is anchoring. And on Fox News, Shepard Smith is talking with WGBH’s Emily Rooney, former network executive and daughter of Andy Rooney.

> More: Anderson Cooper is on his way to Boston and will anchor at 8pmET and 10pmET.

> More: Here’s affiliate video of one of the explosions, as seen on CNN:

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After Proposition 8 Oral Arguments, Cautious Analysis From Correspondents

Today the Supreme Court held oral arguments regarding the future of California’s Proposition 8, which made gay marriage illegal in the state. Tomorrow the court will hear another case related to gay marriage, as it responds to questions of the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Cable news coverage of the arguments looked very similar to last year’s arguments regarding the constitutionality of President Obama’s healthcare bill. In content, however, there was a difference in tone. Rightly or wrongly, the preliminary analysis from reporters becomes news in of itself, and this time around caveats were the name of the game.

NBC News law and justice correspondent Pete Williams last year said that the health care law was “in trouble,” and that it was “very doubtful” that the Supreme Court would find the healthcare law constitutional. He did include caveats in his analysis, but his comments (along with those from fellow court-watcher Jeffrey Toobin) ended up dominating the news cycle for over a day, sparking multiple segments on Fox News and CNN, in addition to MSNBC and NBC News.

Ultimately, of course the bulk of the law was upheld (although that day’s reporting had its own issues).

Today, Williams was much more reserved in his predictions, noting that it appears unlikely that the court will overturn Prop 8 outright, and that the court may dismiss the case outright:
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