CNN’s John King has taken to Twitter to further explain his erroneous report of an arrest in the Boston Marathon bombing.
“Source of that description was a senior government official. And I asked, are you sure? But I’m responsible. What I am not is racist,” the anchor wrote Thursday.
A day earlier, King and CNN contributor Fran Townsend reported, citing sources, that an arrest had been made during the bombing investigation. “I want to be very careful about this because people get very sensitive when you say these things. I was told by one of these sources, who is a law enforcement official, that this was a dark-skinned male,” King said Wednesday.
The anchor’s comments received widespread criticism on social media. Among many others, the NAACP, The Daily Show‘s Jon Stewart and MSNBC’s Al Sharpton took issue with King’s report.
“The fact that this information was false is only part of the problem,” said NAACP president and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous in a statement Thursday. “Our concern is that CNN used an overly broad, unhelpful and potentially racially inflammatory categorization to describe the potential suspect. History teaches us that too often people of color are unfairly targeted in the aftermath of acts of terrorism.”
During his MSNBC show Wednesday, Sharpton called King’s description “coded, offensive language.” PBS anchor Gwen Ifill wrote on Twitter: “Disturbing that it’s OK for TV to ID a Boston bombing suspect only as ‘a dark-skinned individual.'”
After the claim of an arrest being made began to be refuted by other outlets Wednesday (and the Boston police department and FBI), King clarified on air: “One of the federal sources I was just communicating with said, ‘Even to say it’s an identification, a specific identification, is to go too far.’ But then I circled back, several Boston and state law enforcement officials say we have identified, based on the enhanced video.”
On Thursday, the FBI held a news conference releasing multiple photos and surveillance footage of the two suspects sought in connection with the Boston Marathon bombing. An FBI spokesperson for the Boston office said that the agency wouldn’t remark on ethnicity of the suspects.
“It would be inappropriate to comment on the ethnicity of the men because it could lead people down the wrong path potentially,” the spokesperson told the Associated Press.