Who Didn’t?

Today was to have been the day when David Bohrman, CNN’s new Washington bureau chief, was to rally the troops, fresh off the kind of scoop he hoped would reinvigorate the network and boost ratings over rival Fox News.

At least that’s what he was planning on Friday, as reported by Harry Jaffe of Washingtonian Online.

Bohrman was aglow with the fact that newspapers around the country had picked up — and attributed — CNN’s scoop that Pakistani forces had Osama bin Laden’s number two man trapped in a mountain hideout. CNN’s Aaron Brown broke the story Thursday, based on an interview with Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf, whose comments about a “high-value target” triggered speculation that the capture of Ayman al-Zawahiri was imminent.

That was exactly the kind of breaking news Bohrman wants his network to provide. “I want to read ‘CNN reported’ in the newspaper all the time,” Bohrman told Jaffe.

Well, he got part of his wish. Papers all over the country ran with the story. Trouble is, however, the breathless reporting of Brown and others at CNN was a bit premature. By yesterday, the story had been largely debunked, and newspapers from the Lancaster [Pa.] New Era to the New York Times were backpedaling furiously from the al-Zawahiri-trapped-on-the-Afghan-Pakistani border story.

We weren’t privy to what Bohrman told the troops today, but it’s unlikely he touted the disparaging mention of the CNN story in today’s Daily Times of Pakistan.


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Susan Q. Stranahan wrote for CJR.