We wrote yesterday about the chain reaction of bad reporting the New York Post set off this week when its reporters quoted anonymous sources alleging that Aaron Greene — one half of the couple arrested on Saturday after police found a weapons cache and explosives in their West Village apartment — had ties to Occupy Wall Street.
In the aftermath, both the Associated Press and Reuters repeated the Post’s claim, and it spread far and wide before the NYPD officially told reporters on the record that they don’t think Greene was involved in any political movements.
What we missed yesterday was that on January 2, a full two days after the Occupy link had already been debunked, CBS This Morning ran a segment doubling down on the false claim.
Reporter Seth Doane went so far as to bring on Mitchell Silber of K2 Intelligence, a corporate investigation firm, to make this stark (and wholly unsupported) pronouncement:
“The assumption was that the vast majority of people there were peaceful protestors but there was a more radical fringe element to the group and there was a concern that at some point they might turn to violence if they weren’t accomplishing their political aims.”
It’s unclear why CBS doesn’t bother to identify him as such, but well into 2012, Silber was the Director of the Analytic and Cyber Units in the NYPD’s controversial Intelligence Division, where he was associated with the division’s program of widespread surveillance of Muslim Americans.
Here’s the video:
So now we have a well-connected former bigwig in the NYPD’s Intelligence Division going on TV to talk about Greene in the context of the terrorist threat within Occupy Wall Street, two days after the NYPD has already officially backed off that assertion, which had come to the public’s awareness only because of anonymous sources (presumably within the NYPD) quoted in the Post. Huh.
Meanwhile, it turns out today that the Post was also wrong about the other detail it trumpeted in the opening sentence of the offending story on Greene: he didn’t go to Harvard either.
Gothamist, going above and beyond the call of journalistic duty, made the superhuman effort to pick up a telephone and painstakingly dial Harvard University to confirm Greene’s attendance there. What did the Harvard spokesman say?
“Aaron Greene did not attend Harvard Kennedy School, or Harvard undergrad.”
For those keeping track, that’s now two (2) factual errors in the Post’s first sentence, both falsely associating other people and institutions with criminals, both widely and uncritically repeated in the media and zero (0) corrections.
Keep it up, guys.
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