Even though a Washington Post/ABC News poll shows a majority of Americans approving of how the news media handled the shooting in Tucson, it’s hard to imagine a much worse performance. For example, in the frenzy to get there first, CNN ran a photo of Jared Loughner they had pulled off of his Facebook page except it wasn’t Loughner. Sorry, innocent kid who everyone thought was a mass murderer for a little while! Then, on the night of the shooting, various outlets claimed Giffords had woken up and recognized her husband, which hadn’t actually happened.
But the worst transgression was the widespread reporting on the day of the massacre first by NPR, then CNN, Reuters, Fox News, and the Times that Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords had died. It was bad enough that the general viewer was exposed to this inaccurate information, but far more horrifying is that Mark Kelly, Giffords’s husband, saw the news reports on a plane as he was flying to the hospital, as he told Diane Sawyer on 20/20 last night. It was twenty agonizing minutes before he found out his wife was still alive.