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Errors Along the Way During Navy Yard Rampage Reporting

Several media outlets covering the chaos in Washington, DC Monday learned the hard way that lesson from journalism 101: first be right, then be first. With the investigation into the Navy Yard shooting stretching into the evening, until police became confident Aaron Alexis acted alone, parts of the nation’s capital remained on edge.

The first major error occurred around 1pm when CBS News and NBC News reported, then retracted a report that misidentified the shooter. Several hours later a situation outside the White House , at 6:50pm, the team from FNC’s “FOX Report” Tweeted:

A few minutes earlier, White House correspondent Ed Henry went on “Special Report with Bret Baier“:

“I was standing outside and I heard what sounded like at least two gunshots. At first, I thought it was fireworks or something because it’s very extraordinary to hear that obviously on the North Lawn of the White House. But I knew there was something more than just that when I saw at least one secret service officer take out a rather large weapon and start engaging. Then we saw at least one suspect thrown down to the ground.”

It turns out it was fireworks. Baier cleared that up a few minutes later, as did “FOX Report” at 7pm. Here’s the man who was taken into custody:

Rampage at DC Navy Yard

Police say three shooters are behind a rampage at the Navy Yard in Southeast Washington DC. One of the shooters is “down,” according to police, but two remain at large. Shots rang out around 8:20am. The Washington Post reports 10 people were shot. NBC News is reporting four have died.

The story has taken over coverage on the cable news channels for nearly two hours. Fox News was first to report the story at 8:43; CNN broke the news at 8:55 and MSNBC reported it at the top of Chuck Todd‘s show at 9am.

The Washington Navy Yard is a former military ordnance plant. It now serves as a ceremonial and administrative center for the U.S. Navy. About 3,000 people work there.

Breaking…

12:19: At a news conference, D.C. Police chief Cathy Lanier confirms authorities are searching for “potentially two other shooters.”

12:34: Pres. Obama speaks about the tragedy: “We stand with the families who need our love and support.”

1:06: NBC News and CBS News retract reports about the identity of the shooter.

2:04: NBC/MSNBC now saying death toll is at 8. CNN and Fox News being cautious reporting “multiple” fatalities.

2:06: Police chief update: “At least 12 confirmed dead,” including the shooter. George Stephanopoulos breaks in to ABC at 2:15; Brian Williams breaks in on NBC at 2:25.

2:46: NBC News reports shooter is 34-year-old civilian contractor Aaron Alexis.

4:18: CBS News will expand “Evening News” to an hour tonight for coverage of the Navy Yard shooting.

4:19: Mayor says 13 people killed, including gunman. Also, one of two suspects is no longer being sought. Authorities still want to talk to another man seen on video in the area at the time of the shootings wearing a “drab olive uniform.”

4:52: Fox News has tweaked its primetime schedule for tonight. At 8pmET, Bill Hemmer will anchor from New York, with Greta Van Susteren contributing from the Navy Yard in DC. Sean Hannity will be live at 9pmET and Van Susteren will anchor the 10pmET and 11pmET hours from the Navy Yard.

7:42: Anderson Cooper will report from DC for CNN’s primetime programming tonight.

Cable Networks Turn to Atlanta After Reported School Shooting

The cable news networks turned to some breaking news Atlanta area this afternoon after reports of gunfire at Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy, a charter elementary school in DeKalb County.

CNN was the first network to report the news at 1:32pmET. Fox News followed at 1:40pmET, and MSNBC reported the news at 1:48pmET. All three networks dipped into coverage from their respective affiliates: CNN from CBS/CNN affiliate WGCL, Fox from Fox O&O WAGA and MSNBC from NBC affiliate WXIA.

Police reportedly have a suspect in custody. All three networks are reporting that there were no injuries in the incident.

Cablers Cut To Obama Comments On Egypt

President Obama made brief remarks on the situation in Egypt while vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts this morning. While the President spoke at a podium, and there were video cameras present, logistics prevented live video from going out to the broadcasters and cable channels, so only live audio was featured.

Fox News, CNN and MSNBC all carried the remarks at 10:30 AM, as did Fox Business and Bloomberg TV. The President condemned the violence in Egypt that has killed hundreds of people, including multiple journalists, and also announced that the U.S. could be canceling its joint military exercises with Egypt slated for next month.

Cablers Break Into Afternoon Programming To Cover ‘Whitey’ Bulger Guilty Verdict

Just after 2 PM, the jury in the “Whitey” Bulger trial in Boston revealed their verdict, and it appears as though the former Massachusetts Mob boss will be spending the remainder of his life behind bars.

Bulger was found guilty on multiple counts of racketeering and conspiracy, as well as number of murders… though not all of the murders he was charged with.

The first of the verdicts was reported at 2:03 PM on MSNBC and FNC, according to TVEyes, with CNN less than 30 second later just after 2:04 PM. CNN also brought in “Legal View” anchor Ashleigh Banfield to discuss the case. Banfield’s new legal-focused show started this morning at 11 AM. Martha MacCallum anchored for FNC, and Thomas Roberts was on MSNBC.

Bloomberg Makes Serious Error In Fabrice Tourre SEC Decision

It may not be quite as memorable as when CNN and Fox News bungled the Supreme Court’s decision on the Obama Adminitration healthcare ruling last year, but Bloomberg made a serious mistake of its own while reporting on the SEC’s case against Fabrice Tourre.

Tourre lost, and was found liable on six of seven counts, but the Bloomberg Terminal–and subsequently Bloomberg TV and Bloomberg News–reported that he had won the case.

As with CNN’s error last year, the incorrect verdict was disseminated through Bloomberg’s social media accounts in addition to airing on TV and being sent through the proprietary Terminal. Subscribers pay $24,000 a year for the privilege of accessing the Terminal, in the hopes of getting an edge of just a few seconds to help with high-speed trading. The Terminal is widely revered for its speed and accuracy, which makes the incorrect verdict all the more surprising.

Cable Nets Captivated as Cleveland Kidnapping Victim Speaks at Ariel Castro Sentencing

Cleveland kidnapper Ariel Castro was sentenced to life in prison without parole plus 1,000 years on two counts of aggravated murder this afternoon. The hearing has been followed closely throughout the day by the cable news networks, with Fox News, MSNBC, CNN and HLN all broadcasting the courtroom proceedings continuously from 11am-2pmET.

One of the more dramatic moments in the hearing came in the noon hour, when kidnapping victim Michelle Knight addressed the court. “I spent eleven years in hell, where your hell is just beginning,” she told Castro. “You deserve to spend life in prison.” Watch her statement, via Fox News, below:


With Journalistic Implications, Cable News Covers Bradley Manning Verdict

Shortly after 1 PM, the verdict in the Bradley Manning trial came in from a military court in Ft. Meade, Maryland. Manning was prosecuted by the government for giving Wikileaks thousands of secret documents, including State Department cables. The most serious charge was “aiding the enemy,” which almost certainly would have had implications for all working journalists that cover the U.S. government.

Manning was found “not guilty” of that charge, but guilty on most other charges, including theft and espionage.

The three general cable news channels previewed the impending verdict at the top of the hour, with Fox News reporting the verdict at 1:05, followed by MSNBC at 1:08 and CNN at 1:09. No cameras were allowed in the courtroom, and journalists were unable to report the verdict until they were released from the room.

Royal Baby Arrives: Duchess of Cambridge Gives Birth to Baby Boy

The Duchess of Cambridge has given birth to a new royal heir. Princess Catherine and Prince William are parents to a baby boy, weighing in at eight pounds, six ounces.

Although the news was scheduled to be announced via an official document posted to an easel in front of Buckingham Palace, royal officials sent a press release with the news at 3:31 pmET. CNN, MSNBC and Fox News all reported the news as soon as the press release arrived, with Max Foster reporting on CNN, Amy Kellogg on Fox News and Jim Maceda on MSNBC.

NBC News and ABC News both produced special reports beginning at 3:30 p.m. Brian Williams anchored on NBC, with Natalie Morales at St. Mary’s Hospital in London and Keir Simmons at Buckingham Palace. David Muir anchored on ABC, with Amy Robach at St. Mary’s and Barbara Walters and Dr. Jennifer Ashton contributing from the New York studio.

>Update: Morales will anchor a “Dateline” special from London at 10pmET tonight.

Kate Middleton Admitted to Hospital For Birth of Royal Baby

The Great Kate Wait is (almost) over. The Duchess of Cambridge was admitted to St. Mary’s Hospital in London in the early stages of labor this morning, Kensington Palace officials announced around 2:30amET.

CNN was the first cable news channel to report the news, simulcasting CNN International beginning at 2:38 a.m. Robert Gray anchored a special report on Fox News at 2:42 a.m. MSNBC reported the news on “First Look” at the top of the 5 a.m. hour.

Diana Perez and John Muller reported on the royal baby at 2:37 a.m. on ABC News’ “World News Now.”  The story also led NBC’s “Today,” ABC’s “Good Morning America” and “CBS This Morning.” Natalie Morales reported from St. Mary’s for NBC. Amy Robach was there for ABC and Elizabeth Palmer was there for CBS.

The networks also have reporters at Buckingham Palace, where the birth announcement will be posted on an easel in public view. The document will be the first official notification of the baby’s gender, weight and time of birth.

The morning show anchors, who have few details to report at this hour, joked on Twitter about the Royal Baby:

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