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Did the Coast Guard or CNN cause the 9/11 panic on the Potomac?

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Gibbs pointed out that the initial breathless report on CNN was based on what someone heard on a radio scanner -- unconfirmed by the Coast Guard, which in essence had said it didn’t know what the CNN reporter calling for comment was talking about. Based on what CNN had reported but without doing its own checking, Reuters and then Fox News went with the story as well.

“Before we report things like this, checking would be good,” Gibbs said. To which many media experts could only say, “Duh!”

"The higher the stakes, the more careful you have to be to make sure you are correct," Tom Fiedler, dean of Boston University's College of Communication, told the Los Angeles Times. "Unfortunately, this is one of those examples of ready-fire-aim journalism."

Al Tompkins, a faculty member at the Poynter Institute, a journalism center in St. Petersburg, Fla., also told the LA Times: "It's a really dangerous practice to use radio traffic as your principal source of information, because it so often turns out to be incorrect."

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