January 8, 2015

CNN | Slate

Pete Williams and NBC Nightly news mistakenly reported Wednesday that the suspects from the massacre at the office of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo had been killed or arrested.

Both CNN and Slate pointed out that NBC Nightly News erroneously tweeted a report, attributed to “senior U.S. officials” that “1 suspect in the Paris attack has been killed and the remaining 2 are in custody.”

NBC News correspondent Pete Williams then discussed the report with Chris Matthews on MSNBC, before retracting it later that night, according to CNN:

At 8 pm, during MSNBC’s “All In” with Chris Hayes, Williams walked back the report saying, “we just don’t know what the situation is in France tonight.”

“We were told earlier this evening from two U.S. counterterrorism officials that one person was dead and two have been arrested,” Williams said on the broadcast. “Other U.S. officials,” he added, “say they haven’t been told that.”

A NBC News spokesperson emailed Poynter, saying the report was based on “two consistently reliable U.S. counterterrorism officials in different government agencies.”

As soon as it became evident that our sources doubted their information, we immediately updated our reporting across all platforms and continue to do so as this fast-moving story unfolds.

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Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of Poynter.org. He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism…
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