Sunday night’s season opener of HBO’s “The Newsroom” reenacted coverage of the Boston Marathon bombing. What bad luck for BuzzFeed‘s Andrew Kaczynksi and CNN’s John King, who have to relive the nightmare of the big mistakes they made during the real ordeal in 2013.
“ACN” is the show’s fictitious news station. “News Night” is the program.
“John King reported an arrest,” an ACN reporter says urgently on the drama. The British editor, “Mac,” complimented King, saying, “This man doesn’t make a lot of mistakes.” She asks for a second source anyway. And thank God.
Heard on one of ACN’s TV’s: “CNN retracted its earlier report.” The newsroom erupted in cheers. This is when the publisher, played by Sam Waterston, blasts the newsroom hard in a speech: “Worst moment in this guy’s life and you’re cheering? Why? If there’s anyone in the world who should be able to empathize with CNN right now, you’d think it would be the people in this room. He got knocked down.”
The fake reporters apologized.
Like King’s gargantuan error, Kaczynski’s mistake was impressively bad. He retweeted the names of Boston bombing suspects that turned out to be wrong.
On HBO, they don’t name him. They explain it by beginning with a “guy on Reddit” named “Greg Hughes.”
An ACN reporter: “At 2:43 this morning a man named Greg Hughes tweeted that the Boston police scanner had identified the names of the suspects… Earlier in the night, Greg Hughes tweeted, ‘In 2013, all you need is a connection to the Boston Police scanner and a Twitter feed to know what’s up. We don’t even need TV anymore.'”
Moments after, he explained, “A reporter at BuzzFeed sends a tweet out to his 81,000 followers.” Mac says incredulously, “A reporter at BuzzFeed has 81,000 followers.”
Perez Hilton, the entertainment blogger, also takes a hit. The HBO drama includes him because he also tweeted out wrong information to his six million followers.
During the episode, Mac dismisses taking tweets too seriously. “We aren’t going based on tweets from witnesses we can’t talk to,” she barked. “What credible news agency would do that?”
A few minutes later, a female “News Night” reporter tries again to report news based on unidentified tweets. “I’m tracking 2221 tweets describing two explosions at the finish line of the Boston marathon,” she shouted. “What are we waiting for?”
ACN’s Neal Sampat asks, “Are any of them from official sources?”
Congratulations to Kaczynski and King for your HBO shout-outs.