CNN’s John King showed the worst kind of journalism Wednesday when he made controversial racial assumptions and falsely reported on-air that the suspect in the deadly Boston Marathon bombings was a “dark-skinned male.”
King was wrong and irresponsible. Law enforcement officials immediately refuted King’s report and, in fact, CBS News reported that the suspect is a “white male.”
As a seasoned journalist, and a black man, I am outraged – and offended — that King would recklessly single out all men of color as the terrorist suspect.
“I want to be very careful about this, because people get very sensitive when you say these things,” King said Wednesday. “I was told by one of these sources who is a law enforcement official that this is a dark-skinned male.”
He said that there had been a further description given, but he was refraining from sharing it with viewers.
“There are some people who will take offense for even saying that,” King said. “I understand that.”
“We can’t say whether the person spoke with a foreign accent, or an American accent?” Wolf Blitzer asked. “That would be premature.”
King repeated that he was only going to use the “dark-skinned male” description, saying that sometimes information did not turn out to be true.
“I’m making a personal judgment—forgive me, I think it’s the right judgment—not to try to inflame tensions,” King said. “They say it’s a dark-skinned male.”
Who said it was a “dark-skinned male?” A law enforcement source?
Monday’s blasts killed 8-year-old Martin Richard, of Boston, and 29-year-old Krystle Campbell, of Medford, Mass. On Wednesday, CBS News confirmed that the third fatality has been identified as Lu Lingzi, a 23-year-old graduate student at Boston University from Shenyang, China.
In the rush of trying to get a “scoop” on the case, King showed terrible judgment. Within seconds on air, King essentially turned every male of color a bombing suspect. King was wrong and he should apologize on-air.