Thursday was one of those crazed and maddening days in the world of cable TV when a historic moment was anticipated, and some in the world of cable TV news covered the event as a done deal whether or not they had any verified information that it was indeed a certainty.Read more here.
If you were watching MSNBC at 1:21 p.m. (EST), for example, you would have seen this headline: "NBC: Egyptian President Will Step Down Tonight."
I no longer expect journalism from a cable channel that features the likes of Rachel Maddow, Lawrence O'Donnell and Ed Schultz, but this was a new low in making any effort to actually report a story: just walking next door and asking its sister operation, NBC News -- and then laying the headline off on them.
I didn't see any such definitive statement about Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak resigning on NBC News Thursday. But if it did report that Mubarak was stepping down, as MSNBC said in its headline, then shame on NBC news, too. If not, then NBC should ask MSNBC to correct the record and stop tarnishing the brand.
But I have to say even on channels where more care was taken, viewers were definitely led to believe for most of the afternoon that Mubarak was about to go on Egyptian State TV any minute and announce he was going to step down. And who wouldn't stay glued to the tube all afternoon to see that -- even if you were on vacation like I was.
Only, of course, it didn't happen. Mubarak delegated some powers to his vice president, but said he was NOT stepping down until September as he has previously announced. And the channel that showed the most care in reporting the story responsibly from the beginning to the end of the afternoon was Al Jazeera, the very channel some in the U.S. try to depict as reckless in its Mideast coverage.
(Al Jazeera picture with headline: "Defiant Mubarak refuses to resign.")
Here was the key statement that should have slowed the runaway horses of cable madness at places like MSNBC: Anas el-Fekky, Egypt's minister of information, saying Mubarak was definitely not going to resign. He said it about 1:20 p.m. (EST) Thursday afternoon.
Report: CIA Chief Based Congressional Testimony On Mubarak Departure On ‘Media Broadcasts’ (Mediaite)