CBS Anchor Scott Pelley: Were Getting the Big Stories Wrong Over and Over Again

Getty Images

CBS News anchor Scott Pelley on Friday scolded the news media for what he said has been “a bad few months for journalism.”

“Our house is on fire,” Pelley told an audience at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut. “These have been a bad few months for journalism. We’re getting the big stories wrong over and over again.”

“Let me take the first arrow,” he continued. “During our coverage of Newtown, I sat on my set and I reported that Nancy Lanza was a teacher at the school. And that her son had attacked her classroom. It’s a hell of a story, but it was dead wrong. Now I was the managing editor, I made the decision to go ahead with that and I did, and that’s what I said, and I was absolutely wrong. So let me just take the first arrow here.”

Pelley was accepting the university’s Fred Friendly First Amendment Award, named after the former CBS News president. He said that in an age where more information is available to more people than ever before, “never has more bad information been available” either.

He called last month’s Boston terror attack a particularly low point for many in the industry.

“Our nation was attacked by terrorists,” Pelley said. “I cannot think of a time when the public that we serve needs accurate, timely information more than in those moments when our country is under attack.”

CNN was widely maligned for being the first to incorrectly report that authorities had a suspect in custody, as was The New York Post for publishing photos of two men it incorrectly said were being sought by police.

“That fire that started on the Internet spread to our more established newsrooms,” Pelley said. “In a world where everyone is a publisher, no one is an editor. And that is the danger we face today.”

​Watch Pelley’s full remarks below, starting at the 10:15 mark.

(h/t Weekly Standard)