During Monday night’s coverage of damage due to storm system Sandy, both CNN and the Weather Channel inaccurately reported that the New York Stock Exchange was under three feet of water. Meteorologist Chad Myers told Piers Morgan about the damage.
“According to the National Weather Service, through broadcast media, there’s three feet of water on the trading floor on Wall Street. Three feet of water on the New York Stock Exchange,” Myers said on air.
Morgan asked longtime Wall Street correspondent Erin Burnett how long the exchange might be closed. She responded, “It’s a wooden floor, and it’s a historic building, the damage it could do would be amazing.”
Throughout the exchange, which lasted several minutes, a lower-third graphic said “3 feet of water on floor of NYSE.”
Morgan then asked correspondent Ali Velshi, “What do you think that will do to the financial markets?”
“This will have an influence worldwide on people’s wealth,” Velshi responded.
About 10 minutes later, Morgan and Myers had this exchange, while a lower-third graphic read “conflicting reports on NYSE flooding”:
Morgan: You have an update on the stock exchange situation … Do we still think that 3 feet of water got into the exchange? There seem to be conflicting reports now.
Myers: Oh is that right? You know, I got that from the National Weather Service Chat bulletin board. It was right on there, it said three feet of water on the floor. I don’t know if there’s conflicting reports or not.
Morgan: It’s a lot of chaos out there, a lot of reports flying around –
Myers: Of course, power’s out, lights are out; phones are probably not working. I don’t know. I will clear it up though, I will figure it out whether that happened or not.
Morgan: We’ll get to the bottom of it after the break.
The Washington Post’s Erik Wemple reports that the National Weather Service denies responsibility for the erroneous information:
Chris Vaccaro, a spokesman for the National Weather Service, dismisses via e-mail any notion that his people would have undergirded such a report. “I know for sure we would not have been the original source of that information. Our offices and employees are all out on eastern LI.” He elaborates, noting that his understanding is that “those reports originated via social media from local NYC media. That report was then mentioned in a forecast oriented chat room discussion. But the NWS is not the direct source of the report.”
Vaccaro provided Wemple with an update later: “The report came from local NYC media and appeared in a Local Storm Report from NWS, which summarizes area impacts. In that report the information regarding the NYSE was attributed to “media” accordingly. Once that flooding information was determined to be false, the report was updated with that removed.”
CNN spokesperson Bridget Leininger sent this statement by email: “Chad Myers referenced a National Weather Service report that turned out to be incorrect. We quickly made an on air correction. We regret the error.