This is indeed what the 24-hour news cycle is doing to us in the media.
Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan, who is also a psychiatrist, went on a shooting rampage in Ft. Hood, Texas. At the end, 13 people were dead, and 30 more were injured. Three other soldiers were detained, questioned, and released after it was determined they were not involved in the shooting. Hasan was wounded in the rampage and is in a coma, breathing on a respirator, but he is expected to live.
That’s the story. That’s what happened in Texas yesterday.
In an effort to produce nothing more than speed, every major media outlet from ABC, to CBS to CNN reported the story wrong several times before the dust settled yesterday. “Seven dead.” “Nine dead.” “Dozens dead.” “Eleven dead.” “The gunman, dead.” “Two guns used in the shooting.” “Another shooter is at large.” “Two other shooters are at large.” “A police officer who shot at the suspect was killed.”
All of these reported “facts” are wrong. Thirteen people are dead. The gunman is not dead. He only used one handgun in the shooting.
We should be ashamed, as a profession, after that display of speculation. These aren’t dominoes or poker chips falling. If we can’t get a firm number on the number of human beings killed, then we shouldn’t speculate, and we shouldn’t allow grandstanding politicians, like the Texas Senator and Congressman we heard yesterday, to go on the airwaves speculating either.
This was awful, awful reporting all around, and it’s nothing more than a product of over-excited news producers rushing to be the first with the scoop. Because God-forbid we err on the side of accuracy.