SP Times: TV scores, stumbles in attack coverage - 24 September 2001

25 Sep 2001


ST. Petersburg Times, Floridian - 24 september 2001- By ERIC DEGGANS

TV scores, stumbles in attack coverage :

Every TV news outlet made its share of missteps. But Fox News Channel's aggressive approach was particularly troubling, rashly predicting 10,000 casualties on Sept. 11, displaying the number of a mental health counseling service controlled by the Church of Scientology, showing a headline that claimed a Tampa student was involved in the attack and broadcasting hawkish comments from evangelist Pat Robertson, signature personality Bill O'Reilly and former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger.

"The shrillness in some of what Fox is doing, I don't think plays well at all," said David Klatell, academic dean at Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. "The situation is so dramatic in and of itself, I think sometimes the best thing reporters can do is take a very measured tone."

As the crisis progressed, hopeful searchers, earnest rescue workers and a small number of hoaxers and scam artists birthed a network of misinformation that stung TV news outlets many times.


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