9/11 '09, And The 'News' That Halted Traffic At Reagan National
CNN provoked a 22-minute ground halt at Reagan National Airport Friday morning when it broadcast a story that shots had been fired amid elevated Coast Guard activity on the Potomac River shortly after President Obama's motorcade had passed through the area on historically sensitive 9/11, 2009. The news agency later reported that it had confirmed the events were all part of a Coast Guard training exercise. It was later discovered that the words "bang, bang, bang, bang" and "we have expended 10 rounds" had been heard by CNN over police scanners that the news agency monitors. Following that, the news organization observed and eventually broadcast video footage of U.S. Coast Guard vessels behaving in what might be described as excited fashion on the Potomac. The final complication came when CNN sought comment from the Coast Guard and was told by a spokeswoman that she was unaware of activity in that area. Then, going with what they heard and saw, CNN went live on cable television to announce that the Coast Guard had reported shots fired and aired their footage of the elevated Coast Guard boat activity on the Potomac. That report then influenced authorities to take action at Reagan National, where a ground halt was put into effect from 10:08 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. CNN says it received a Coast Guard e-mail at 11:09 a.m. confirming that the event was a training exercise. In the aftermath, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs took aim at CNN. CNN stood its ground.
In a statement, CNN said, "Given the circumstances, it would have been irresponsible not to report on what we were hearing and seeing. As with any breaking news story, information is often fluid, and CNN updated the story with the official explanation from the Coast Guard as soon as it was provided."