On his Sunday program, CNN’s “Reliable Sources” host Howard Kurtz was critical of NBC reporter Pete Williams’ much-praised reporting of the terrorist attacks in Boston.
Williams, Kurtz noted, reported Friday that law enforcement had identified “a body” on a boat in the Watertown, Mass. as authorities closed in on bombing suspect Dzhokar Tsarnev. This was inaccurate, according to Kurtz, because Tsarnev was still alive inside the boat.
Kurtz also defended his network’s handling of its own inaccurate reporting earlier in the week. On Wednesday, CNN reported that authorities had arrested a bombing suspect in Boston. In fact, as Williams correctly reported, no arrest had taken place.
“CNN owned up to the mistake, took responsibility,” Kurtz said. “I think that was a good thing. NBC’s Pete Williams has generally been praised for his reporting. He is a very experienced beat reporter. But on Friday night, as we saw earlier he, relying on sources, said that there was a body on the boat.”
“He didn’t say a dead body though, Howard,” replied Mediaite’s Joe Concha, a guest on Kurtz’s program. ”He said a body on the boat.”
“‘Body on the boat’ does not suggest somebody is alive,” Kurtz said. “We’ve asked NBC to clarify. NBC has not given us any comment.”
“Well, maybe because the guy who looked in boat saw somebody cringed,” Said Concha. “Didn’t know whether he was alive or dead.”
“I think when you say ‘a body,’ that’s a corpse,” said the Washington Post’s Erik Wemple, another guest on the program. “And the other thing is he also reported a fire on the boat. I don’t know if that fire ever happened.”