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ABC News Boss On Media’s Role In Tucson Shootings: Blaming Media Is A “Giant Leap”

Recently-named ABC News president Ben Sherwood says “it’s premature to leap in and examine what may or may not have been the media’s role” in the shooting spree in Arizona. In an interview with Broadcasting & Cable, Sherwood calls the lure to blame the media a “giant leap.”

B&C’s Ben Grossman and Andrea Morabito surveyed news chiefs at ABC, NBC, CNN and Fox, asking each about the charges of vitriolic rhetoric ahead of the Tucson shootings and the mistaken reporting in the aftermath.

Sherwood notes ABC News did not repeat the mistaken report that Rep. Gabrielle Giffords had died, though the report did appear on the ABC News website as a banner for “about ten minutes” on Saturday:

It hit me in the heart when I see what the Giffords family went through during the time [her death] was being reported and a reminder that we have to get it right. I’m proud of how ABC handled the story on the broadcast side, but accuracy is what matters most.

At CNN, which did air the report of Giffords’ “death,” executive vice president Ken Jautz pointed out that the mistake was quickly caught, and immediately corrected:

A responsible news organization, when errors happen, the key is to quickly acknowledge and correct them. In our case we too had the error and we did that in 10 minutes or so. If the question is ‘how the hell did you do that?’ I guess I shouldn’t even say this, but it’s in the context of other people were reporting it too. The key, which I have emphasized internally, is that you’re always going to have mistakes in a large frenetic breaking news story-hopefully not mistakes of this caliber-[and] be as transparent as possible to viewers.

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