Here's what happened.
- CNN reports a tip that the Coast Guard has fired shots in the Potomac very near to where President Obama is paying respects to those killed in the 9/11 attacks on the Pentagon.
- Panic ensues. CNN learns that the "shots" were part of a training exercise by the Coast Guard.
- The Coast Guard announces hours later that, in fact, no shots were fired.
- Press Secretary Robert Gibbs lays blame on the network.
Yes, says Ed Morrissey at Hot Air. He says, "I agree completely with Robert Gibbs on this. The “panic” over the exercise originated entirely at CNN, due to their rush to go live with a story before properly verifying it. They have a reporter at the White House and people at the Pentagon. Why not ask first whether the Coast Guard had an exercise? Are they that desperate for a scoop?"
Yes, but the Coast Guard Had a Hand, says the Atlantic's own Marc Ambinder. "It's imperative that the Coast Guard communicate on clear frequencies because it must communicate with civilian vessels. The agency does work some missions on encrypted frequencies; one would assume that training exercises, which involve sensitive sources and methods, ought to be one of those missions."
Not Entirely, says Steve Krakauer at Mediaite. Noting the network's error, he turns the situation into a bit of a screed against the White House's relationship with the media. He says, "While CNN was wrong to blast the breaking news tweet out, especially on 9/11 when the alarm would be so much more amplified, the training exercise was sure to cause confusion. The timing was especially stupid as well. To divert the blame squarely on CNN shows a theme with this administration—attack the media."
No, Blame the Coast Guard, says Tabussum Zakaria at Reuters. Flumoxed, he asks, "Why would the Coast Guard decide to conduct a training exercise on the Potomac River, a stone’s throw away from the Pentagon, where the president of the United States and others attended a memorial event, on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks???"