40 min ago False reports yesterday that a suspect had been arrested in the Boston attacks damaged the credibility of the news outlets that carried the reports and created waves of public confusion and frustration. It appeared to be a low point for the media. But now that low point has been surpassed.
The New York Post on Thursday has printed on its cover an image of two men standing together at the marathon under the headline "BAG MEN: Feds seek these two pictured at Boston marathon." The image shows two young men, one with a duffle bag and one wearing a backpack, talking to one another.
The problem – a very big problem, for any media organization that would aspire to meet the most basic standard of accuracy – is that neither man appears to be a suspect in this attack.
Gawker points out that not only did CBS News confirm, after the Post cover emerged, that the men pictured are not "suspects"; crowd-sourced investigations on reddit and other sites a day earlier had identified the men – kids, actually – and found them to be "incredibly unlikely suspects."
Gawker's Max Read writes:
But thanks to their ability to do really basic internet detective work, they managed to figure out pretty quickly that the guy in the blue track jacket almost certainly isn't a bomber. All they had to do was find his Facebook. I was able to do it pretty quickly: He's a Moroccan-American kid, a local high-school soccer player and track runner (possibly he and his friend's track outfits could have been a tipoff that they were actually interested in the race?) who works at Subway and likesHow High and The Hunger Games. On Monday, he took a couple of geekily enthusiastic photos of himself at the marathon.
Unfortunately it's not the first example of egregious misreporting by the Post on the Boston attacks. The paper reported on Monday that 12 had been killed in the attack and that authorities were seeking a "Saudi man" – who turned out to be a wounded student, and by no stretch of anyone's imagination, apart from the employees of the New York Post, a suspect.