CNN anchors and commentators were trying to figure out what happened on the Potomac River Friday morning at about the same time the President was speaking at the 9/11 Memorial Service at the Pentagon.
Having reported that the Coast Guard had fired on suspicious boats in a restricted area of the river near the memorial, based on Coast Guard radio transmissions and video of the chase, it turned out that it was only a Coast Guard training exercise.
CNN had reported that 10 rounds of shots had been fired. John King reported later that the Secret Service had been assured that it was a training exercise, which Homeland Security later confirmed. (Watch video below.)
At press time, CNN was calling for answers from the Coast Guard as to why the exercise was held on Sept. 11 and why the press, and apparently some government officials, were not warned in advance.
Speaking on CNN, Frances Fragos Townsend, former Bush administration Homeland Security adviser and former assistant commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, said it was inexcusable that the exercise had been held on 9/11 and that the press had not been notified.
CNN ultimately reported that it was not a “major” exercise, but instead a regular training exercise the Coast Guard does every day, which is why it was not passed up the chain of command.
Kyra Phillips said the Coast Guard was also suggesting that CNN may have jumped the gun by reporting from radio scanner information before getting through to the Coast Guard.
Pardon my French, but bullhockey.
No excuse for a training exercise on 9/11 near the memorial service without giving news media a heads up. Was CNN too quick to go with the story? In hindsight, maybe, but I can hardly blame them for reporting that boats appeared to be in a restricted area and shots appeared to have been fired, since that was the evidence of their eyes and ears.
Particularly when some government officials didn’t know what was happening either.
“This is a perfect teaching moment,” Phillips said. Agreed, but most of the learning needs to be done by the government.