cbs news has a huge problem. one of their lead journalists reportedly violated news protocol concerning the sourcing of a story. it is reported that ms. norah o’donnell violated protocol and tweeted a story that was improperly sourced. compounding the matter is that it was reporting on a “huge” national story. the tweet arguably was false. with this publicity, cbs’ reputation as a news source is now in serious doubt. staffers are reportedly upset. dailymail.com
assuming the story was not properly sourced, there are multiple theories that can be explored. did ms. o’donnell have a bad source? or did she make up a source? in the past, there are accounts of journalists being fired for either employing marginal sources as well as making up sources.
will cbs news must act to address their credibility issue? if ms. o’donnell truly violated their rules, cbs must harshly discipline her. further, they should have an outside journalist investigate and report on the error. likewise, there should be an internal investigation concerning the sourcing for the story. are they going to use this source in future reporting? further, will cbs engage in organization wide training to ensure that this type of violation of journalistic protocol will not be tolerated? will ms. o’donnell be disciplined?
the irony of this journalistic affair was the fact that it came at a time when the government, media and social media was doing a full court press to discredit former president donald trump. the story in question was the truth of mr. trump’s assertion that the fbi confiscated his passports. his claim, which ms. o’donnell’s reporting denied, turned out to be true. the fbi had his passports. thus, ms. o’donnell’s unforced error buoyed any and all claims by mr. trump that “the mainstream media is out to get him.” this mistake further galvanized trump supporters who believe that there are forces are out to get him at all costs. ms. o’donnell’s tweet will be offered as “exhibit 1” for this agenda.
ms. o’donnell’s act has impacted fellow co-workers, according to reports. cbs has journalists, who may be biased on their political leanings, but actually want to do their job properly. they don’t want to be associated with an organization that is an embarrassment to the profession.
given the problem, cbs news decided to double down on their incompetency. “in a written statement to the post, a cbs rep defended o’donnell’s series of tweets. “donald trump publicly alleged that his passports were ‘stolen’ and in the hands of the fbi. as part of the normal reporting process, our reporters inquired with the doj about whether they had donald trump’s passports,” a cbs rep said in a statement to the post. “they replied that they did not,” the rep added. “our reporting reflected that; it was true then and it is true now that the fbi was not in possession of his passports at the time. and as the tweet thread makes clear, any items that were not contained in the warrant would be returned.”” nypost.com
in sum, cbs fails to appreciate that this shoddy reporting was akin to a genie released out of its bottled. they will never be able to erase the tweet from the public’s memory. this story is a cautionary tale of how failure to value the truth can not only rock an organization but end up creating a “huge” win for their alleged target.
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