News Outlets Struggle With Premature Report of Arrest in Boston Bombing Forbes, Reuters, Google

News outlets on TV and on the Internet were scrambling today to sort out conflicting information about the status of the investigation into the Boston Marathon bombing, with a number of false reports surfacing that indicated an arrest had been made in the case.

The story was rapidly evolving throughout the early afternoon on the East Coast, with cable news channels in particular going back and forth about the “news” of an arrest.

As we approached our deadline, the latest word from investigators was that no arrest had been made. The big news at that point appeared to be that a video clip had been found that showed a person dropping off a bag that officials suspect was one of the bombs.

However, a number of outlets had already reported an arrest. CNN, the Associated Press and the Boston Globe were among the news operations that reported a suspect was in custody, only to later retract those reports.

A headline on read: “Reports: Suspect Held In Boston Bombing Case,” with the story including the following passage:

“Citing officials close to the investigation, the Associated Press and Boston Globe report that a suspect has been taken into custody in the case of Monday’s bombings at the Boston Marathon. Earlier, CNN reported an arrest had been made but on-air reporting at the network contradicted their online report.”

As of 3 p.m. ET, Reuters was reporting what appears to be a solid lead in the case. “Investigators believe they have identified a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing from security video and an official statement was expected later in the day, a law enforcement source said on Wednesday,” the Reuters story reports. “However, no arrest had been made, three separate government and law enforcement sources told Reuters.”

The report adds: “Earlier, CNN reported that a suspect was in custody, citing law enforcement sources. But then the network cited three sources who said no one was under arrest after all.”

Reuters notes: “The identification of a possible suspect marked the most significant publicly disclosed break since Monday's blast at the marathon finish line killed three people and injured 176 others. Investigators were also searching through thousands of pieces of evidence from cell phone pictures to shrapnel shards pulled from victims' legs.”


Headlines found on a Google search around 3 p.m. ET