Video: CNN’s Blitzer indulges in the irresistible urge to speculate

posted at 4:49 pm on April 15, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Plenty of outrage coming from Twitter about this and other instances of media speculation in the wake of the multiple explosions in Boston today, and it’s worth discussing separately from Allahpundit’s excellent tracking post on the main story. Wolf Blitzer is covering the story for CNN at its headquarters, and he filled the time by speculating that today’s Patriot Day holiday in Massachusetts might have something to do with the apparent bombing of the Boston Marathon:

“One intriguing notion, one intriguing thought here, and I’m curious, Mike, and I’ll ask Matt to weigh in as well,” Blitzer said. “It is a state holiday, in addition to the Boston Marathon. It is a state holiday in Massachusetts today called Patriots Day, and who knows if that has anything at all to deal — to do with these, these twin explosions.”

Patriots Day is a holiday meant to commemorate the anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the first battles of the Revolutionary War. Blitzer continued to inquire to about that possibility, asking if there might have been an event to mark the anniversary.

“As part of Boston’s — Massachusetts, I should say — Patriots Day, did you notice earlier in the day, Matt, any special Patriots Day events going on, anything pointing to a special day in Massachusetts?”

This is the problem with sitting in a studio with no information and three hours to fill. It’s the reason that I canceled my show today after the reports from Boston began to flood the zone, much of them unsubstantiated, contradictory, and impossible to verify quickly. Even in the five minutes in which I spoke, I felt the urge to offer all sorts of “analysis” based on no solid and substantiated evidence at all. It’s a human impulse to fill the unknown with spot analysis that attempts to make sense of the incomprehensible. Unfortunately, just as with the Tucson and Aurora shootings, that speculation by mainstream-media figures seems to fall very quickly into political paradigms and biases.

And perhaps Blitzer may be correct. Who knows? Well, Blitzer cannot know either, so any connection to his patter and reality would only be strictly coincidental. That’s why it’s better to refrain from speculating while an event unfolds. As the saying goes, it’s better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.

Having done radio and television, I understand the urge that Blitzer didn’t resist. That doesn’t translate to Twitter and Nicholas Krystof’s inane politicking within minutes of the blast, though:

https://twitter.com/NickKristof/status/323891060927512576

After getting reamed about it, Krystof admitted it was a “low blow”:

Leave aside the fact that there may be good reasons for opposition to ATF nominations; how does Krystof think a confirmation hearing would have stopped the bombing from happening? I’d like to see the diagram for that process.

Erik Wemple wrote a few minutes ago that Twitter acts as a red light on bad reporting:

As if the media needed any reminder not to jump to conclusions about what was happening on the ground in Boston, Twitter came to the rescue, with numerous folks pleading for caution. …

There’s a lot more of this stuff out there, setting up an interesting social-media juxtaposition: The platform that’s most effective at churning out breaking news has become a place that preaches caution in breaking-news scenarios. Just in case editors and reporters need any reminders.

Well, apparently they do.


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