The foreign policy news as CNN broke it at about 8:30 p.m. Tuesday seemed pretty big: The U.S. was halting aid to Egypt following the coup that toppled President Mohamed Morsi. Full Stop. But CNN was the only outlet reporting that version of the story, and it based its report on one anonymous U.S. official. Shortly after the CNN report emerged, the White House issued a statement saying “reports that we are halting all military assistance to Egypt are false.” Meanwhile, Reuters reported that the United States was “leaning toward withholding most military aid to Egypt,” but that officials had yet to make a final decision on the issue. Finally, the Washington Post and the New York Times published their reports, which both said that the Obama administration planned to announce substantial cuts to Egypt military aid within the next few days.
In the end, CNN’s chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto did apparently have a scoop, but his story now reads pretty differently than it did when first reported. The news network’s report now says the White House will be making its announcement about reducing military aid in the coming days, but it won’t be cut entirely. And it carries this sentence: “In an initial report about the announcement, CNN did not specify that these portions of the aid would continue.”
So in the fight between speed and accuracy, it looks like accuracy took a hit in this story, even though its basic premise — that the U.S. was cutting much of its aid to Egypt — turned out to be right.