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Boston blasts: FBI slams CNN, Fox News for jumping the gun

April 18, 2013 12:34 IST

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has reprimanded news media outlets for jumping the gun on Boston Marathon twin bombings investigation, saying that "inaccurate" reporting will have "unintended consequences."

Leading news outlets like CNN and Fox News falsely reported that federal authorities had identified and arrested a suspect in the bombings.

They said the individual had been identified based on footage from surveillance videos from the blast site that allegedly showed the person placing a bag carrying the bomb in a trash can near the finish line of the marathon.

Soon after the outlets broke the news of the arrest, Boston police tweeted that "Despite reports to the contrary there has not been an arrest in the Marathon attack."

FBI also issued a statement that said, "Contrary to widespread reporting, no arrest has been made in connection with the Boston Marathon attack."

It said, news media had been reporting on the blasts based on inaccurate information from unofficial sources.

"Over the past day and a half, there have been a number of press reports based on information from unofficial sources that has been inaccurate. Since these stories often have unintended consequences, we ask the media, particularly at this early stage of the investigation, to exercise caution and attempt to verify information through appropriate official channels before reporting," the FBI said.

The twin bombings ripped through a cheering crowd which had gathered at the heart of the city on Monday for one of the most popular sporting events. Nearly 27,000 people ran the marathon. Three persons were killed and over 180 injured in the blasts.

The news outlets quoted law enforcement sources and said a suspect was in custody. Some news organisations went so far as to say that the suspect would soon be produced in a local court. CNN reported that a "dark-skinned male" was the suspect.

CNN broke the news of the arrest but later issued a statement that quoted three sources.

It said these sources had given it the information about the news of the arrest: "CNN had three credible sources on both local and federal levels. Based on this information we reported our findings," the news organisation said.

CNN and Fox News had been widely criticised last year when in a rush to break the story the two misreported the result of the Supreme Court ruling on President Obama's health care law.

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