Who watches the watchdogs? Aaron Sorkin does! The première of The Newsroom is a scathing indictment on the state of the media, pegged to the mishandling of the Boston bombing.
When is it safe to broadcast the news? When Aaron Sorkin says it is, of course.
The season three premiere of HBO’s The Newsroom launched in classic Sorkin fashion. (Your visceral reaction to those last three words, as is the polarizing Sorkin fashion, likely dictates whether you thought the hour was brilliant or insufferable.) There was a tragedy. There were impassioned heroes rallying together to become better than they thought they could be. And there was, as there always is, moral grandstanding.
Titled “Boston,” the premiere centered on the show’s fictional ACN news network’s coverage of last year’s bombing at the Boston Marathon. More specifically, however, it focused on how the media screwed just about every single thing up.
Everything was put on blast: CNN reporter John King’s misreport that an arrest was made without getting confirmation, which every other news outlet then in turn began reporting as fact. The New York Post’s cover photo wrongly suggesting that two innocent men were suspects, which every other news outlet then in turn began reporting as fact. The conspiracy theory treasure hunt conducted on Reddit that surfaced dozens of false reports, which were then recirculated all over Twitter and then, again, which every other news outlet then in turn began reporting as fact.
The underlying—and Sorkin-ly overblown—theme? The industry-wide abandonment of basic journalism ethics, the rise of citizen journalism, and the conflation of social media reporting as credible news gathering is a danger to society.
Journalists are supposed to be the watch guards and they’re not guarding anymore, Sorkin is saying. They’re opening the gates and letting any and all information flood in, no matter how speculative or unsubstantiated or harmful. They’re not doing their jobs, and everyone is guilty.
Well, everyone but Sorkin’s noble battalion of infallible Journalists With Ethics, the reporters and producers at ACN.
“We’re going to do this well!” Sam Waterston’s Charlie bellows early on in the episode.
When rumors and suspicions begin flying across rival networks’ news tickers, Emily Mortimer’s Mack flits around the newsroom with signature virtuous gumption. “We don’t go based on tweets from witnesses we can’t talk to!” she pledges. “What credible news agency would do that?” A quick beat passes before a producer chimes in: “Fox is up!”
The bulk of the premiere actually put an unexpected spin on the ripped-from-the-headlines story. Rather than spend the hour tugging at heartstrings with exploitative sob stories about the heroes and victims of the Boston bombing, the episode was spent showing journalists talk about when it’s safe to report breaking news.
It’s not the sexiest angle. It’s not the angle you’d expect from a cable drama. But it’s the most quintessential Sorkin-esque angle there ever was, and he nails it.
In an interview last week, Jeff Daniels, who plays ACN anchor Will McAvoy, talked to me about this. “We got a problem here,” he said. “Major news agencies have a problem. We’re supposed to wait for the guys who get the double confirmation. We’re supposed to wait for the guys who are doing actual reporting.”
The tension of the episode comes as the clock ticks and ACN, at the order of Mack and Will, still haven’t gone live with the report of the bombing. The network suits are becoming exasperated, but they won’t budge. Mack and Will learn of the attack in the episode’s first 30 seconds. The ACN news team doesn’t go to air with it until minute 12.
That tension morphs later in the episode as Twitter and Reddit reports catch fire, much to the disgust of the professional journalists in the newsroom. Dev Patel’s Neal gets the Sorkin laugh line. “Social media is going to solve this crime,” he says, before facing a firing squad of death stares from his colleagues.
For as much as the premiere seems like an indictment of the media, particularly against CNN and John King, whose blunder is a major point of the episode, it actually makes a point to defend them, too. In the Church of Sorkin, this is the prayer of humility: forgive them, for they know not what they do.
When the ACN newsroom begins cheering CNN’s retraction of King’s report, Sam and Will storm them in a fury: “What are you doing? Worst moment in this guy’s life and you’re cheering? Why?”
Daniels thought that was one of the more important moments of the episode. “Aaron took care to write in the episode that we weren’t beating up on CNN or John King,” he says. “We got lucky. That could’ve been Will McAvoy doing the false report. Sam and I are going, ‘We dodged a bullet there.’”
But that the CNN-John King blunder even happened is a cause for alarm. “How do you compete against that?” Daniels says, championing the plight of an ethical news producer. “We’re [society] not waiting for Brian Williams to get it right, when we can just go gab about the reports on Twitter.”
As much as all of the episode’s examination on the value of ethical news reporting is hyper-specific to the Boston Marathon incident, Sorkin pulls out to for a macro look at the fate of news organizations who dare to uphold their journalistic integrity. Basically, they’re screwed.
ACN’s numbers come in, and they learn that, since Will and Mack and Charlie made their manifesto that they were going to be the good guys doing the good reporting, the network has plummeted in the ratings. “Somehow in regaining our credibility we went from second to fourth place,” Will says.
What does that say about us, news consumers, that we demand fast and accurate news, but don’t really care so much about that last “accurate” part? That we’re willing to settle for shoddy reporting and a lack of ethics? For as much as Sorkin tends to tell you with incessant speechifying and grandstanding how you’re supposed to feel, he’s also at his best when he raises self-searching questions. And that’s a doozy.
“There’s no accountability, Daniels told me. “When you do get it wrong maybe there’s a retraction. Maybe there isn’t. You just move on to the next day.”
“Mostly it’s ignored that you completely fuck it up, that you didn’t do a professional job and got the story wrong,” he went on. “If you put a mission accomplished banner on the ship, they’ll believe it. Just tell them many, many times that this is going on and they’ll believe it. That’s not news. That’s not Murrow, Cronkite, and all those guys Aaron emulated and revered that first season. Those guys are still out there, but man they’re being stampeded.”
And with this being the last season of The Newsroom, soon there won’t be an Aaron Sorkin vehicle to remind us, albeit in a slightly holier-than-thou fashion, what a tragedy that truly is.
A huge field gathers to run the Boston Marathon, Biden heads to Ukraine, and more
1. Huge field lines up to run the Boston Marathon
About 36,000 athletes converged to run in the 118th Boston Marathon under tight security on Monday, part of the storied race’s emotional return a year after a deadly bombing at the finish line. The field is the event’s second largest ever — race organizers expanded it so roughly 5,000 runners prevented from finishing after last year’s blast could run again. “We’re taking back our finish line,” a runner from California said. [The Boston Globe, Reuters]
2. Biden heads to Ukraine as diplomatic deal falters
Vice President Joe Biden began a two-day trip to meet with Ukrainian leaders on Monday as violence frayed a diplomatic deal calling for separatists to give back occupied government buildings in eastern Ukraine. At least three people died Sunday in a gunfight reportedly between Ukrainian nationalists and pro-Russia separatists. New photographic evidence appears to confirm some of the “green men” occupying government facilities are Russian special forces. [USA Today,The New York Times]
3. Al Qaeda suspects targeted in unprecedented Yemen operation
A “massive and unprecedented” combination of drone strikes and raids by Yemeni commandos is underway against suspected al Qaeda fighters in Yemen, a Yemeni official told CNN early Monday. At least 30 militants reportedly have been killed. Strikes a day earlier killed at least a dozen. The attacks targeted a mountain ridge where Nasir al-Wuhayshi, leader of the terrorist group’s Yemeni branch, met with followers in a video released recently. [CNN]
4. South Korean president harshly criticizes ferry captain
South Korean President Park Geun-hye said Monday that the actions of the captain and some crew of the sunken ferry Sewol were “akin to murder.” Capt. Lee Joon-seok is facing several charges in connection with the sinking and botched evacuation last week. A crew member said in a radio transcript released Sunday that the ship rolled over so fast passengers couldn’t reach lifeboats. Sixty-four people are confirmed dead; 238 remain missing. [CNN]
5. Teen survives flight to Hawaii in jet’s wheel well
A 16-year-old stowaway survived a flight from San Jose, Calif., to Maui in the wheel well of a Hawaiian Airlines jet. FBI investigators said the teen was “lucky to be alive” after facing severe cold and a lack of oxygen at 38,000 feet for several hours. “Doesn’t even remember the flight,” said Tom Simon, FBI spokesman in Honolulu. “It’s amazing he survived that.” A 16-year-old died after stowing away on a 2010 Charlotte, N.C., flight to Boston. [The Associated Press]
6. Crowd gathers for Colorado marijuana celebration
Tens of thousands of people turned out on Sunday to celebrate the once-underground 4/20 marijuana holiday in Colorado, the first state to legalize recreational pot use. The celebration, long observed by diehard pot smokers, culminated this year with a massive smoke-out in a Denver park. “It feels good not to be persecuted anymore,” said Joe Garramone, puffing on a joint while his 3-year-old daughter played in the park. [The Associated Press]
7. Malaysia Airlines flight makes an emergency landing after tire bursts
A Malaysia Airlines flight was forced to turn back during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Bangalore, India on Sunday after a tire in its landing gear burst on take-off. The plane made an emergency landing back in Kuala Lumpur after about four hours in the air. None of the 159 passengers and seven crew members were injured. Search crews are still looking for another Malaysia Airlines flight that vanished on March 8. [CBS News]
8. Economy set to bounce back from chill of winter storms
A harsh winter hurt the U.S. economy’s growth in the first three months of 2014, but warm spring weather should trigger a rebound, according to a quarterly survey released Monday by the National Association for Business Economics. A series of brutal snow and ice storms probably dragged first-quarter growth below the 2.6 percent rate of the last quarter of 2013, but forecasters expect a rate as high as 3.6 percent in the second quarter. [CNBC]
9. Afghan presidential frontrunner appears unlikely to avoid a run-off
Figures released Sunday suggested that Afghanistan’s presidential election is headed for a run-off. With half the votes cast on April 5 counted, frontrunner Abdullah Abdullah widened his lead, but still appeared unlikely to take the 50 percent of the vote needed to win without a second round. Abdullah, who finished second behind Hamid Karzai in 2009, had 44.4 percent of the vote, ahead of Karzai adviser Ashraf Ghani, who had 33.2 percent. [The New York Times]
10. Wrongfully convicted former boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter dies
One-time middleweight boxing contender Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, who spent 19 years in prison after being wrongfully convicted for a triple murder at a Paterson, N.J. bar, died in Toronto Sunday of complications from prostate cancer. He was 76. Carter, who was black, was convicted twice by all-white juries. He became a cause celebre, with his case inspiring a song by Bob Dylan before a judge set aside his conviction in 1985. [Los Angeles Times]
A Saudi Arabian national who was injured in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings has filed a defamation and slander lawsuit against firebrand conservative commentator Glenn Beck for publicly accusing him of being the “money man” who funded the horrific attacks.
Abdulrahman Alharbi, a 20-year-old exchange student who lives in Revere, Mass., said in a lawsuit filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Boston that his reputation was “substantially and severely damaged” after Beck made on-air comments tying him to the twin explosions that killed three people and injured more than 260.
The lawsuit also names as defendants the broadcast companies linked to Beck’s show: The Blaze, Inc., Mercury Radio Arts, Inc., and Premiere Radio Networks, Inc. It seeks a jury trial and unspecified damages.
Alharbi said in the court filing obtained by NBC News that Beck “repeatedly and falsely identified” him as an “active participant” in the April 15, 2013, attack, “repeatedly questioned the motives of federal officials in failing to pursue or detain” him and “repeatedly and falsely accused” of him of being a “criminal who had funded the attacks.”
In the lawsuit, Alharbi said he has been called a “murderer, child killer and terrorist” in the wake of Beck’s statements.
A spokesman for Beck declined to comment.
Alharbi was a spectator near the marathon finish line at the time of the explosions and was injured. Federal authorities investigating the attack questioned him and searched his apartment before concluding he was not involved in the attack, the lawsuit said.
Authorities blame the bombing on two brothers: Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, who died in a shootout with police four days after the bombings, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, 20, who was captured and is being held pending trial in November. He has pleaded not guilty to 30 federal charges, including using a weapon of mass destruction.
— Daniel Arkin, with The Associated Press
Here’s hoping the two get a large pile of Murdoch money in exchange for this mess. A very, very large pile of money ~ Daily Kos on Facebook
Here’s hoping the two get a large pile of Murdoch money in exchange for this mess. A very, very large pile of money.
I’m only surprised it took this long:
A Massachusetts teenager and his 24-year-old friend filed a defamation lawsuit against the New York Post Wednesday in Boston, accusing the tabloid of falsely portraying them as suspects in the deadly Marathon bombings by plastering their photograph on the front page under the headline, “Bag Men.”
As the picture above demonstrates, the Post wasn’t shy about it, calling them the “bag men” in large type even while their own story admitted that it wasn’t actually clear if the two pictured were the ones law enforcement were actually investigating. As it turns out, they weren’t—it was a picture that some online sleuths found suspicious, and that was all it took to make the Post front page, and to therefore make the two a conspicuous public target:
When Zaimi arrived at work that day, a company vice president called him into his office. Zaimi did not understand why until the office manager showed him a copy of the Post.“He immediately started shaking, his mouth went dry, and he felt as though he was having a panic attack,” the complaint said. […]
That night, the complaint said, as he waited for the train home, someone pointed him out as the person in the New York Post. Zaimi fled.
Given that we’re living in an age when would-be public heroes even fire shots at fleeing shoplifters, I’d say hightailing it out of a crowd that thinks you might be a terrorist based a front-page picture saying so was probably a very good idea. The Post should count themselves lucky no worse harm came to the two.
Here’s hoping the two get a large pile of Murdoch money in exchange for this mess. A very, very large pile of money. The crooked, reckless sensationalism of the Post was demonstratedthroughout the Boston story, but in this instance it could have gotten someone killed.
- “Bag Men” Sue New York Post (animalnewyork.com)
- Mass. residents sue NY Post over marathon coverage (timesleader.com)
- Mass. men reportedly sue New York Post over Boston Marathon bombing portrayal (foxnews.com)
- New York Post Sued by Its Bogus Bombing Suspects (politics.kfyi.com)
- 2 Massachusetts residents sue New York Post, saying newspaper falsely portrayed them as Boston bombing suspects – @AP (abcnews.go.com)
To paraphrase a famous quote: The reports of MSNBC’s demise are greatly exaggerated.
We’ve seen this before, but in reverse. Last fall, MSNBC was beating Fox News in certain demographics. Ratings go up and down and with that thought, there’s no doubt in my mind that MSNBC is here to stay…period.
There has been a lot of virtual ink devoted to the two months of dismal ratings that MSNBC has just endured, some of it sincere, some of it concern-trolling, and much of it tinged with Schadenfreude. There has even been talk that the network might never recover, at least not unless it abandons its Lean Forward identity. In order to figure out how to fix MSNBC’s problems, you have to understand what went wrong in the first place, and you have to actually want the network to thrive.
Before I even start, and more importantly, before any of you even start, let me set the record straight: I hate everything about TV ratings. I hate writing about them, reading about them, and I especially hate getting PR pitches about them. ratings are a terrible way to measure quality, especially in news programming, there are a million ways to slice and dice them, and just looking at them gives me a headache. This is not an invitation for you to email me about how your show is #1 with carpentry aficionados age 63-97. My concern for ratings is confined to their effect on whether I can continue watching programming that I enjoy.
That’s why I took notice when Salon‘s Alex Pareene, in an otherwise excellent column, suggested that MSNBC’s bad stretch has put the network’s progressive-leaning orbit into fatal decay. Are the ratings really that bad?
Well, they are pretty bad, from what I can see, and as Pareene notes, lots of people are taking this opportunity to beat up on All In host Chris Hayes. The launch of the former Up star’s 8 pm show just happened to coincide with an extended series of news cycles that played to rivals CNN and Fox News’ strengths, along with the climax of the HLN-owned-and-operated Jodi Arias trial. Here’s how Pareene describes it:
Meanwhile, CNN’s been given gift after gift by whichever minor demons are responsible for the creation of cable news stories. The channel’s new Zucker-approved softer focus and lack of dignity allowed it to capitalize on Jodi Arias nearly as much as its trashy sister station HLN did. The Boston bombings were a perfect CNN story, even if CNN botched the hell out of its coverage. The Dzhokhar Tsarnaev manhunt was precisely the sort of story that makes people go through their channel guides trying to remember which one CNN is. And then there was the West, Texas, explosion. CNN capitalized on all of this because CNN’s brand is “breaking news.” Fox capitalized because there are simply a whole bunch of people out there whose TVs are tuned to Fox basically all the time. MSNBC’s brand is “people either talking calmly or yelling at you, or each other, about politics.” These weren’t stories that made people think, “What does Chris Matthews have to say?” (Another problem: During huge stories, like the Boston bombing and subsequent manhunt, MSNBC frequently finds itself in the odd position of competing with its own sister network, when NBC News takes over the broadcast network.)
Ironically, MSNBC was alone among its cable news competitors in getting the Boston manhunt story right, a good deed for which they appear to be being punished. Fox News, meanwhile, has been carb-loading like Jabba the Hutt with ringworm on the three-headed Scandalabra™, and bloating its endlessly voracious audience in the process.
- What Really Went Wrong For MSNBC, And How To Really Fix It (mediaite.com)
- MSNBC Is Slipping and Sliding in the Ratings Game (blackchristiannews.com)
- MSNBC president: Don’t count on us for breaking news (redalertpolitics.com)
- TV Ratings: MSNBC Falls Below HLN in May, Rachel Maddow Hits Lows (hollywoodreporter.com)
- What’s wrong with MSNBC? (salon.com)
- MSNBC president coins great new slogan: We’re not the place for breaking news (twitchy.com)
(Revised from earlier post)
On Thursday night’s edition of “The Rachel Maddow Show,” host Rachel Maddow discussed the swirl of questions around the shooting of Ibragim Todashev, an associate of Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the two men charged with the bombing of the Boston Marathon.
FBI officials have given conflicting accounts of the questioning and killing of Todashev, who knew Tamerlan Tsarnaev through Mixed Martial Arts fighting. Todashev, who, like the Tsarnaevs, was Chechen, lived in Boston for a time before moving to Florida. Agents from the FBI traveled to Florida to question Todashev repeatedly about the bombing.
“Last week while being questioned again in Florida,” said Maddow, “something went very, very wrong and he ended up dead.”
Law enforcement officials were interviewing Todashev in his apartment in Orlando on Wednesday, May 22, when something occurred that resulted in the young man being shot multiple times.
On Thursday, Todashev’s family held a press conference in Moscow, where they showed autopsie photos of their slain son. Ibragim Todashev was shot six times in the torso and once in the back of the head.
“We have not been able to authenticate these photos,” said Maddow. “No one has.”
But, she said, if they are genuine, “something weird is going on.”
“How does that comport with the FBI’s story that he was killed during questioning by armed agents who were only acting in self defense?” she asked. “Shot seven times, including in the back of the head?”
Todashev was questioned because of a possible connection to a bizarre 2011 murder in Waltham, Massachusetts in which three men were found with their throats cut, covered in marijuana, with $5,000 in cash untouched nearby. Law enforcement officials theorize now that Tamerlan Tsarnaev may have murdered the men with the help of some other person or persons.
“That cold case got hot again” after the marathon bombing, Maddow said. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was close friends with one of the victims, but, after his murder, Tsarnaev declined to attend his friend’s funeral.
After Todashev was shot during questioning, Maddow said, law enforcement officials “leaked an elaborate story” that purported to justify the killing. The officials also claimed that Todashev had implicated himself in the Waltham murders prior to being shot. They said that just before the man was about to sign a confession, he snapped, and “lunged at the interrogator with a blade.”
“That initial story has fallen apart,” Maddow said. Within 12 hours of the shooting, two of the three law enforcement officials who were talking to the media about the case changed their story, saying they were no longer sure whether Todashev had a knife.
Now, multiple sources have come forward to papers like the Washington Post to say that, in fact, Todashev was unarmed. NBC News reported on Thursday that Todashev may have been brandishing some kind of “metal rod.”
“So they shot him seven times?” Maddow asked, “Including in the back of the head?” She added that no one actually knows right now if that was the actual number of gunshot wounds on Todashev’s body since officials will neither confirm nor deny that the post-autopsy photos are accurate.
“What we’re left with here is a baffling mess and a story that does not make sense,” she said.
When I saw this show last night I had hoped that the You Tube video would be available online so that I could share Rachel’s genius for explaining anything with wit and intelligence beyond any newscaster on TV today.
- Rachel Maddow Tears Apart Benghazi Outrage In Epic Segment On GOP Conspiracy-Mongering (mediaite.com)
- Down The Rabbit Hole w/ Popeye (04-25-2013) Debunking Rachel Maddow’s Attack on Conspiracy Theories (federaljack.com)
- Maddow: Republicans still trying to intrude into your bedroom (kstreet607.com)
- Maddow: Right wing fringe is now a cynical money-making ‘racket’ (rawstory.com)
- Debunking Rachel Maddow’s Attack on Conspiracy Theories (dprogram.net)
- Kauilapele’s Blog: Rachel Maddow on 4-24-13… “A Lesson in How to ‘Push’ Disinformation”… (and Why I Have Stopped Watching Rachel, and Pretty Much Anyone Else, on MSNBC) (americankabuki.blogspot.com)
- Rachel Maddow, click here to learn what FEMA region you live in (dailypaul.com)
It has always been obvious that David Gregory is no real liberal…
After watching Sunday’s Meet The Press, one could be forgiven for wondering exactly when the United States went from being a country that faced down nuclear armageddon in the Cold War to cowering under the sheets from the threat of terrorists that may or may not exist.
David Gregory, clearly one of the liberal elitists that are in the tank for Obama, did his very best to conflate Benghazi, Boston and Syria as if they were all part of a grand terrorist plan to destroy America 3 or 4 people at a time:
I want to widen this out a little bit, because I think there’s the broader topic that we’re broaching here about national security, about our personal freedoms in America, coming out of the Boston bombing is, in part, ongoing concern about terrorism. The graphic this week in The Wall Street Journal about that growing al-Qaeda threat, even a couple of years now after Osama bin Laden is killed.
Looking in North Africa, in the Persian Gulf states, where you either have al-Qaeda with a safe haven, or, indeed, more activity. And it leads, too, to what happened last 9-11 in Benghazi, and the ongoing questions about what the United States knew about that, what the administration knew. Did they do enough to stop it? And now, new hearings coming up, new details being reported on, Mr. Mayor [Guiliani]. Is there something here that somehow gets to why we’re more vulnerable now and whether the administration has done enough, in your estimation? (Emphasis mine)
I’m curious to know in what sense are we more vulnerable under Obama? Did terrorists hijack 4 airplanes and use them as missiles aimed at American buildings? Was anthrax used to kill several people using the mail? Were several different American consulates attacked resulting in dozens of causalities? If I’m not mistaken, so far in Obama’s 4+ years in office, terrorists have killed exactly 4 people on American soil and 4 Americans not in an active war zone.
Gregory goes on:
“Jane Harman, and Mayor Giuliani, as we look at all of this, whether it’s jihadist elements operating in Syria, whether we look at, now, this widening plot out of the Boston bombings, they wanted to attack, reportedly, on July Fourth, there are others now involved, friends of Dzokhar Tsarnaev, who show their pictures, who are involved, at some level, of clearing out some of the materials from his room, what does this tell us about what we’re up against here, specifically in the Boston plot, and this question of, “Are we any safer?””
“Widening plot?” Until they can put a finger on who, if anyone, trained the older brother, Tamerlan, the “widening plot” amounts to three young idiots doing something phenomenally stupid. That these imbeciles, which one official referred to as “the Three Stooges,” tried to (poorly) cover up something of this magnitude doesn’t make them part of a grand terrorist conspiracy that makes America less safe; it just makes them dumber than a sack of hammers. No lovable goofball ending here, just a lot of jail time.
But it wasn’t a total fear-fest. Mr. Gregory did accidentally allow Sen. Patrick Leahy to make a point that interferes with the whole “It’s all Obama’s fault we’re under attack” narrative:
DAVID GREGORY: –how vulnerable we are and what we’re doing about it?
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY: Oh, there are questions should be asked. I know I chair a committee that handles the State Department’s budget. We put in extra money, a great deal of extra money, for embassy security.
DAVID GREGORY: I mean that’s what we’re hearing about– (Translation: ERROR! ERROR! That is off script! We can not blame Republicans for their actions!)SEN. PATRICK LEAHY: Let me finish. And that was blocked by the House. They said they didn’t want to spend the money. Whether that would have made a difference or not, I don’t know. Should we look at Benghazi? Yes. But keep in mind that’s just one place. We should look at our security throughout our embassies, because there will always be easy targets.
DAVID GREGORY: Were warnings ignored on Benghazi, Congressman, in your judgment? (Translation: Let’s get back to promoting the right’s conspiracies!)
- Congressman Tom Cotton to Appear on ‘Meet the Press’ (arkansasmatters.com)
- David Koreshs Revenge: Waco and 20 Years of State Terror by Anthony Gregory (politicalcrazyness.tumblr.com)
- David Gregory Spars With Neighbors (huffingtonpost.com)
- Republicans cite attacks in Benghazi, Boston as Obama security failures (washingtontimes.com)
- Gillibrand rejects David Gregory’s talking points: ‘This is not about the NRA!’ (rawstory.com)
- John McCain’s never-ending search for a non-existent Benghazi scandal (blogs.e-rockford.com)
This is a terrible tragedy. The reports have been found to be true…
Rhode Island authorities confirmed Thursday that a body recovered this week from the Providence River is that of Sunil Tripathi, the missing Brown University student whom Reddit’s internet sleuths wrongly linked to the Boston Marathon bombing.
“We have confirmed the identity of the young man found in the water off India Point in Providence,” Dara Chadwick, a Rhode Island Department of Health spokesperson, said Thursday.
According to USA Today, the Brown crew team found his body Tuesday evening. It’s unclear exactly how or when Tripathi died — a medical examiner has yet to determine a cause of death — but there is currently no suspicion of foul play. His family has said he struggled with depression, according to NBC.
Tripathi, 22, had been missing since mid-March. Yet in the frantic digital vigilante search online for suspects following the Boston Marathon bombing, Sunil somehow emerged as a potential suspect.
As soon as the FBI released the first photos of the suspects, now known to be Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, posters on Reddit and 4Chan raced to identify the two men. A leading theory soon emerged that Tripathi, given his recent disappearance, had snuck off to prepare for the attack. That speculation rapidly spread to Twitter, where Tripathi’s name became a trending topic. One Twitter user erroneously claimed that someone on the Boston Police Department scanner — itself an unreliable source of information — specifically named him as a suspect. Soon, news crews descended on his parents’ home looking for answers.
Except that Tripathi was completely innocent. The only evidence against him, it turned out, was that he’d gone missing at an inopportune time. As the New Yorker‘s Amy Davidson put it, those internet investigators had simply “looked at that video and saw who and what they may have wanted to see.”
The family, already grief-stricken at Tripathi’s disappearance, shut down a Facebook pageestablished to aid their search when speculation about his involvement in Boston, as well as a lot of ugly hatred, spread there. They released a statement proclaiming his innocence.
“The last eighteen hours have generated tremendous and painful attention — on social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit, as well as from television media inquiries— linking Sunil to the video stills released by the FBI yesterday afternoon,” they said. “Unequivocally, we have known that neither individual suspected as responsible for the incident in Boston was Sunil.”
On Monday, a Reddit moderator apologized to Tripathi’s family for allowing the hive mind to run so wildly out of control. “This event shows exactly why the no personal information until confirmation rule is in place,” the apology read. “Out of respect for Tripathi and his family, I ask that users here please remove any and all links about him. Thank you.”
In response to news of Tripathi’s body being found, his family issued the following statement Thursday through their reactivated Facebook page.
On April 23, our beloved Sunil was discovered in the waters off India Point Park in Providence, Rhode Island.
As we carry indescribable grief, we also feel incredible gratitude. To each one of you–from our hometown to many distant lands–we extend our thanks for the words of encouragement, for your thoughts, for your hands, for your prayers, and for the love you have so generously shared.
Your compassionate spirit is felt by Sunil and by all of us.
This last month has changed our lives forever, and we hope it will change yours too. Take care of one another. Be gentle, be compassionate. Be open to letting someone in when it is you who is faltering. Lend your hand. We need it. The world needs it.
The Tripathi Family
- Body of student falsely accused of Boston attacks possibly found (kstreet607.com)
- Providence police: ‘very possible’ that body found is Sunil Tripathi (guardian.co.uk)
- Missing student wrongly linked to Boston Marathon bombing found dead (globalnews.ca)
- Sunil Tripathi’s body found; missing student was wrongly linked to Boston bombings (thestar.com)
- Missing student wrongly identified in Boston bombings found dead (onlineathens.com)