The Washington Post’s Capitol Briefing blogger, Ben Pershing, explains how it was that he and several other news organizations reported yesterday afternoon that Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D, OH) was dead when (at that time) she was not:
Capitol Briefing reported at 2:10 p.m. that Tubbs Jones had died. The Cleveland Plain-Dealer, the Associated Press, and CNN came out with similar reports at the same time, all based on anonymous sources. At that point, neither Tubbs Jones’s office nor the hospital had confirmed her death.
It is not clear why Capitol Briefing’s source and those cited by other news organizations believed she had died, though it may be related to confusion over a report in the Plain-Dealer saying she had been taken off life-support…
It’s also not clear why a news organization would report that someone had died “based on anonymous sources” when neither the person’s “office nor the hospital confirmed” it.
Beware that rush to be first. And that rush to be first to take back that first report (which, in the AP’s case, led to this: “Kill the APNewsAlert saying U.S. Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones has died. A doctor says she is in critical condition.”)
Really unfortunate, all around.
Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.