NAACP criticizes CNN for bomber suspect blunder

UPDATED: The NAACP criticized CNN for an erroneous report that described a Boston bombing suspect as “a dark-skinned male.”

CNN’s chief national correspondent John King told viewers on Wednesday that a man had been arrested in connection with the Patriots’ Day attack on the Boston Marathon, then went on to describe the suspect as “a dark-skinned male.” Within about an hour, CNN had corrected its report and noted that no suspect had been arrested, or even publicly identified.

“The fact that this information was false is only part of the problem” said NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous. “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.We ask that CNN and all media outlets exercise caution and weigh the potential implications of such categorizations in future reports.”

The nation’s oldest and largest civil rights organization went on to describe the report in its press release as “irresponsible, reckless, and counterproductive.”

CNN’s blunder was also fodder for political satirists. Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart also took a swing at the report in the opening segment of The Daily Show yesterday, as did Stephen Colbert on The Colbert Report.

UPDATE: King responded to the NAACP release via Twitter: “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.”

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