Coop’s scoop

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Last updated on August 9th, 2017 at 07:28 am

CNN’s Anderson Cooper reviews matters in the wake of yesterday’s misreported Sago mine story:

For those of us in the media, I’m not sure what we could have done to keep this news from spreading like it did.

Well, you could have stopped spreading it. Just a theory.

When you have the governor of the state giving you the thumbs-up, a congresswoman talking about this on air, hundreds of relatives and family members jubilant, some of who received calls from mining officials, it’s tough to ignore what they’re saying.

You can’t ignore the thumb! (“The governor of West Virginia, we are told, just walked out of the church,  held up his thumb and said, ‘Believe in miracles. Believe in miracles.’”) Gubernatorial thumbs and congresswomen aren’t exactly your standard go-to sources on mining mortality issues; likewise, anguished friends and relatives are unlikely to supply accurate data after waiting 40 hours for news. A secondhand remark allegedly from a mining official is likewise useless. Besides which, what’s the point of CNN paying millions for Cooper’s journalistic expertise when we can get the same misinformation from some nameless guy running around a church with a cell phone?

We had more reporters on this story and in more places than anyone else—Randi Kaye, Joe Johns, Sanjay Gupta interviewing the doctor.

And you still screwed up. Any chance of an apology? No, because it’s all the mining company’s fault:

We now know company officials had information they chose to withhold. At the very least, we know there was conflicting information in their hands. They chose to withhold that information.

Agreed; the mining company moved too slowly (and whoever were the command centre guys who contacted family members with premature good news, good luck coping with the nightmares). But company reaction was forced by CNN, Fox, and MSNBC moving too quickly, a point Cooper simply won’t concede.

The bottom line is that there are 12 families in mourning today. That is what this story is about. It is easy to get caught up in the drama of the moment and the horrible roller coaster of emotions.

Easy for you, maybe. The pros at the Elkins Inter-Mountain (circulation: 11,000) seemed calm enough:

[Editor Linda] Skidmore adds that her staff never believed the miners had been found alive because no official word was ever given. She said no update about miners being found alive ever appeared on the paper’s Web site, either.

“I was on the phone with her and I was hearing things on CNN and FOX that she was not hearing there,” [editor Linda] Skidmore said about reporter Becky Wagoner. “She heard that the miners were alive just before it was broadcast, around midnight. She talked about hearing church bells ringing and people yelling in jubilation—but nothing official.”

Just one reporter at the scene, and she did better than CNN’s swarm of camera pixies. Could be a lesson there. Back to Cooper:

There need to be investigations about what happened. And there will be.

Good. A complete investigation might result in a more rigorous fact-checking protocol being established for live news broadcasts. Oh, wait; I accidentally omitted a few words from that last quote:

There need to be investigations about what happened in the mine. And there will be.

Who’s your source on that, Cooper?

(Via Rodger Morrow and Alan R.M. Jones)

UPDATE. Sydney Morning Herald New York correspondent Mark Coultan:

In a devastating blow to relatives of miners missing after an underground explosion in West Virginia, officials at the disaster site retracted an announcement that there were 12 survivors, saying later that only one miner had survived.

What “announcement”?

UPDATE II. CNN president Jonathan Klein:

Our coverage was outstanding on every level. Unlike print, which has to live with its mistakes etched in stone, TV is able to correct itself immediately.

CNN didn’t correct itself; CNN was corrected.

UPDATE III. Cooper earlier in CNN’s broadcast:

Our pledge over the next two hours is not to be traffic and rumor. We’re not going down the road of speculation. We’re only looking for facts. Because God knows, there are a lot of people who have a personal involvement watching right now. We don’t want to give them any misleading information.

UPDATE IV. Given events, shouldn’t the show be re-named Anderson Cooper 180°?

Posted by Tim B. on 01/05/2006 at 06:59 AM
    1. It’s not that Anderson etc. were wrong about the information. In the portion I watched, they offered absolutely no caveats that this might a rumor and was as yet unconfirmed. Geraldo as well.

      Posted by Abu Qa’Qa on 2006 01 05 at 08:16 AM • permalink


    1. Our coverage was outstanding on every level.

      Katrina all over again. They blow the story, get it wrong in every important aspect, and pat themselves on the back over how well they did.

      Posted by Rob Crawford on 2006 01 05 at 08:38 AM • permalink


    1. Where’s wronwright and those earthquake generator keys?

      Posted by Rob Read on 2006 01 05 at 08:56 AM • permalink


    1. There is a pattern here;
      (1) the MSM journalists do not report the real-life events, instead they report contents of own unonscious expectations regarding such events;
      (2) the MSM’s primary relationship is not with the people they ‘report’ about, and not with their audience to who they sell they ‘reports’. Instead, all their activities revolve around the admiration of/competetion with other MSM journalists.
      In other words, they are in a bind and cannot see or think straight.

      Posted by tmciolek on 2006 01 05 at 09:29 AM • permalink


    1. I just wonder about deluded nature of some journalists.

      The few times I have dealt with them in my professional life, they have been very busy, and seemingly eager to do what is quickest & easiest. And often not the sharpest tools in the box, struggling with complex issues, but winging it anyway.

      If other professionals they like to compare themselves to (e.g. doctors, lawyers, architects etc) were as slapdash, they would be struck off very quickly.

      Another thought – the likes of Margo like to pretend somehow they are in a guardian-angel type role – seeing objective facts when the rest of the world is losing its head. Protecting us from evil vested interests (the most evil that we need saving from, of course, are those nasty media proprietors eg Rupert M, Kerry P). However, I just wonder – if we had a Chicken Little type scenario, would our journalists be able to view the situation with a cool, objective head, or would they just run with the crowd, screaming loudest?

      Judging output of the SMH, ABC, BBC and CNN over the past few years, I think they generally run with the crowd, say what is trendy and creates the most Jerry Springer-type titillation and drama, with brain firmly in ‘off’ position.

      Posted by Flying Giraffe on 2006 01 05 at 09:31 AM • permalink


    1. And in other MSManufactured news : Narnia Walks Out of World Trade Talks :

      Narnia’s delegates “were tired of bullying by EU and US delegations and would be returning immediately to their state capital at Cair Parvel,” Ms Aslan was reported as saying. “If this brings the Hong Kong talks to the knees we will be delighted,” it went on. The story was picked up by top business websites, including

      The agencies involved have since removed the reports.

      Everything’s that’s all Bush’s Fault is too good to check.

      Posted by Zoe Brain on 2006 01 05 at 09:48 AM • permalink


    1. The actual trouble is that the whole miner story is column-filler material, hyped into a lead story for its target audience appeal.

      It’s really a bus plunge story, a genre the NYT invented to fill empty column inches on various pages, reporting X killed in a bus plunge in Y country.  There were several every week.

      Once it’s hyped and eyeball retention hysteria sets in, retaining eyeballs is the entire motive.

      Now the eyeball audience is mad at them for toying with _their_ emotional highs.

      Fortunately, another hysterical story can be produced to cover it.

      As to actual news, that tends to get reported after it happens, and isn’t much of a problem to anybody.

      Play the women’s emotion game and you get burnt.  What else is new

      Posted by rhhardin on 2006 01 05 at 10:01 AM • permalink


    1. Waiting for the “Fake but Accurate” line to come forth from Cooper, Geraldo, et al and for Dan Rather to praise the TV reporting as “Its finest hour”. Perhaps Mary Mapes could reveal the inside story of the bravery of these TV reporters, covering dangerous mines, in a new media-hyped book. Also waiting for media interviews of Jesse Jackson and Mother Cindy on their reactions to the Mine Owners crimes.

      Posted by stats on 2006 01 05 at 10:10 AM • permalink


    1. (looks meanly in Rob Read’s general direction)

      “There need to be investigations about what happened. And there will be” … Good. A complete investigation might result in a more rigorous fact-checking protocol being established for live news broadcasts. Oh, wait; I accidentally omitted a few words from that last quote: … “There need to be investigations about what happened in the mine. And there will be.”

      The MSM is very quick to call for Congressional hearings, independent prosecutors, and blue ribbon investigatory committees on any problems that arise in any other area.  Why not convene the same for this news reporting debacle?

      I say let the investigations begin.  If it helps, you can quote me on that.  Just remember, there is no “g” in “wronwright”.

      Posted by wronwright on 2006 01 05 at 10:12 AM • permalink


    1. When I exit the New York subway stop nearest work, there’s Anderson Cooper looking down, maybe as big as Che in Havana: “…and we want to hold the people in power accountable for their words and actions.” Guide us now, oh great Jehovah in makeup.

      Posted by chinesearithmetic on 2006 01 05 at 10:16 AM • permalink


    1. #7 i think you’re confusing a fuckup by a brainless nincompoop with a deliberate ploy to appeal to women who have wrestled the remote from some bloke who wants to watch the footy

      all your remote are belong to us

      Posted by KK on 2006 01 05 at 10:51 AM • permalink


    1. If it helps, you can quote me on that.  Just remember, there is no “g” in “wronwright”.

      Oh poop.  Ok, there is a “g”, but there’s only one “g”, and it’s not after “wron”. Well, actually it is after “wron”, but not immediately after “wron”, it’s after “wronwri”.  What I meant to say is …

      Oh, just forget it.

      Posted by wronwright on 2006 01 05 at 11:09 AM • permalink


    1. wronwright — Too late.  AP already picked up your statement for full circulation.

      Actually, I’m halfway impressed this time.

      Posted by richard mcenroe on 2006 01 05 at 11:24 AM • permalink


    1. WrongWRight?

      Posted by Rob Read on 2006 01 05 at 11:59 AM • permalink


    1. The media (CNN, NYT, etc.) blames it all on ‘miscommunication’. Good thing they’re not blaming it on ‘false intelligence’. By the way, what ever happened to ‘verification’ in reporting?

      Posted by stats on 2006 01 05 at 12:54 PM • permalink


    1. CNN president Jonathan Klein:

      “Our coverage was outstanding on every level. Unlike print, which has to live with its mistakes etched in stone, TV is able to correct itself immediately.”

      Uh-huh. Say, isn’t this the same Jonathan Klein who said during Rathergate:

      “these bloggers have no checks and balances. . . . You couldn’t have a starker contrast between the multiple layers of checks and balances and a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas writing.”

      So when the blogosphere (accurately, even!) reveals the TANG documents as frauds within, oh, 47 minutes of their publication, Klein is Mr. Checks-and-Balances Methodical Sobriety – despite his CBS colleagues having demonstrated none of that.

      When his network screws the pooch to get a scoop and checks their balances at the door, suddenly he’s touting the virtues of Immediate Self-Correction – which is one of the strengths of the blogosphere he’s so contemptuous of.

      Posted by Dave S. on 2006 01 05 at 01:03 PM • permalink


    1. Unlike print, which has to live with its mistakes etched in stone

      Actually, they’ve moved to paper. Rolling those tablets up and tossing them on porches was murder on the paperboys. And the porches.

      And CNN’s mistake is presumably etched in the newspaper accounts of its gaffe, along with cached Web pages talking about it. Like this one! Hello, future!

      This guy is a genius. Very rigorous thinker. He’s the top guy at a top television news network. Any reason to believe the people below him are as intellectually gifted as he?

      To paraphrase Hans Gruber in Die Hard, “You wanted evidence of MSM incompetence and arrogance, Theo? I give you the C…N…N.”

      Posted by Dave S. on 2006 01 05 at 01:13 PM • permalink


    1. This might be a better link for The Inter-Mountain.

      All day long yesterday on its various programs, FOX made excuses for having reporting rumor as fact.  They were, however, very circumspect in their reporting of the condition of Ariel Sharon, saying in several instances that they were waiting for official confirmation on his health from doctors, and not from Sharon’s staff.

      Posted by Donnah on 2006 01 05 at 01:22 PM • permalink


    1. You couldn’t have a starker contrast between the multiple layers of checks and balances and a guy sitting in his living room in his pajamas writing.

      Very true, Jonathan.  Just not in the ratio you assume.

      Posted by Achillea on 2006 01 05 at 01:52 PM • permalink


    1. Anderson Cooper is much more than just another msm idiot journalist.  He’s Gloria Vanderbilt’s poor little rich boy who grew up in unimagined opulence and who wants to give something back by making the world a better place through his devotion to truth in journalism.

      Posted by blerp on 2006 01 05 at 02:23 PM • permalink


    1. Remember Klein’s “flooding the zone” remark after the tsunami? Now people die in a mime collapse and he says the facts weren’t “etched in stone.” Boob. Why not go all the way, Jon? “CNN really dug deep for this one. Unlike other media outlets, we don’t suffer from tunnel vision. It’s a dirty job, but somebody has to do it.” Etc.

      Posted by Jim Treacher on 2006 01 05 at 03:10 PM • permalink


    1. Or a mine collapse, even. I did get caught in a mime collapse once, but luckily they’ve all kept quiet about it.

      Posted by Jim Treacher on 2006 01 05 at 03:11 PM • permalink


    1. Treacher, that last is the most disgusting thing you’ve ever written.  I like to spit up.

      Posted by JorgXMcKie on 2006 01 05 at 03:45 PM • permalink


    1. Don’t blame me, blame Shields & Yarnell.

      Posted by Jim Treacher on 2006 01 05 at 04:24 PM • permalink


    1. #22.  Whew!  Thanks for clearing that up.  I had this mental “if a tree falls in the forest” kind of thing going there for a minute.

      Posted by RebeccaH on 2006 01 05 at 05:46 PM • permalink


    1. It took a big story to make them stop reporting on kidnapped white girls.

      Posted by Mystery Meat on 2006 01 05 at 07:03 PM • permalink


    1. Jonathan Klein is the Juan Cole of all-news television. Foot-in-mouth-disease doesn’t even come close to describing it.

      The guy is the example of how current MSM practices reward style-over-substance mediocrities by promoting them all the way to the top.

      Posted by PW on 2006 01 05 at 08:09 PM • permalink


    1. Our coverage was outstanding on every level.

      “Outstanding” in the sense of “outlier”, I take it.  I nominate Cooper for the 2005 Plastic Turkey Award for “Outstanding” Journalism.

      While I’m at it, I nominate him for Nobel Peace Prize.  ( Why aim low? )

      Posted by zeppenwolf on 2006 01 05 at 08:17 PM • permalink


    1. Here’s a bit of Webdiaryism from the Anderson Cooper 360 page that Tim linked to:

      “Two entrepreneurs create a line of makeup that with give women pretty faces without costing them and arm and a leg. (1:39)”

      Say what?  Are there no editors at CNN?

      Posted by kcom on 2006 01 05 at 09:03 PM • permalink


    1. Just three months ago these broadcasters were speaking truth to power.  Now it looks mor like mumbling to the feet.

      Posted by Pat Patterson on 2006 01 05 at 09:25 PM • permalink


    1. 7. rhhardin, just to take it slightly OT for a bit.

      The comments about soap opera news are all well and good, but they are becoming a bit tired.

      I don’t watch the soaps, although I almost married a bit tough scouser who was addicted to Days of Our Drearies.

      I like action, horror, and Ben Hur (because it is the pinnacle of fimmaking imo).

      Shoot em ups rock my world.

      Chickflicks and drama are also good, as is comedy.

      Don’t talk to me about the Wiggles, though.

      If I want soap opera, I watch the wrestling.

      So there.

      Back on topic, is the book open on how many complaints Mr Cooper will receive over this debacle?

      Posted by Nilknarf Arbed on 2006 01 05 at 09:53 PM • permalink


    1. My note to CNN submitted via the AC 360 web page:

      I remember when CNN was the antithesis of pretty boy journalism.  It used to be about the news.  What happened?  Are you (Anderson Cooper and CNN) starting to believe your own press (written by you, no less).  Your “About the Show” blurb is one of the most pretentious pieces of puffery I’ve read on a news site in a long time.

      Please – get out there, do your jobs as journalists, and give us the news.  Leave the speculation, emotionalism, and National Enquirer moments to someone else.  Your deer-in-the-headlights coverage of the mine story was pathetic and an insult to your professed standards of news coverage (layers of editors and all).  Katrina put you on probation and if I were a judge I’d send you to jail this time.

      Posted by kcom on 2006 01 05 at 10:33 PM • permalink


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