What does a journalist famous for using fake quotes (think Rush Limbaugh and a made-up racist remark) do when covering the death of a pro-athlete? He learns his lesson, right? He checks and double checks everything he reports, right? Nope.
The world was shocked on Thursday to hear that NFL wide receiver Chris Henry died while reportedly falling out of a truck bed. Rick Sanchez was quick to cover it on CNN Newsroom in his usual inept fashion. Sanchez, always the Twitter fanatic, started editorializing Twitter responses of celebrities and pro athletes on his show last Friday without making sure he knew what they were talking about.
Here is Sanchez on last Friday’s show:
Meanwhile, speaking of tweets…This Chris Henry story has more questions than answers to it… This is interesting with some of the reaction that we are getting on Chris Henry.
…watch this one.”I reached out to him many times.” This is Jay Feely, you know, the placekicker for the New York Jets? He says: “I reached out to him many times, including in jail, to no avail. His death was not a result of past problems, but part of a pattern.”
That is interesting, a critical tweet from a fellow football player, Jay Feely, the placekicker for the New York Jets on this situation involving Chris Henry, who was obviously a guy who had many problems in the past.
There is one big problem with Sanchez’s analysis on Jay Feely’s Twitter on Chris Henry. Feely was not talking about Chris Henry when he wrote that particular tweet. Not only was Feely not talking about Henry, but his tweets were really, really clear he wasn’t talking about Chris Henry.
At 317pm on December 17th, Feely tweeted:
“My cousin died a couple of weeks ago at 27yrs old. He had history of drug and alcohol problems & was in and out of jail.” (emphasis on cousin added by me)
At 318pm Feely tweeted the part that Sanchez reported to the CNN audience of millions, as if Feely was talking about Henry and not Feely’s own cousin:
“I reached out to him many times, including in jail, to no avail. His death was not a direct result of past problems but part of the pattern.”
What makes matters worse, is that Sanchez reported on Feely’s twitters on Friday – a full day after Feely had written them. So it would have been fairly easy for Sanchez or his crack research staff to figure out that Feely was talking about his own cousin and not Henry. How horrible of a journalist do you have to be to miss something like that?
Shortly after Sanchez’s mistake, Feely had to contact CNN to tell them they messed up. Sanchez fessed up to it (sort of) on his own blog (read by far less than viewed his report).
“We’ve heard from Mr. Feely that he wasn’t referring to Chris Henry in that Tweet. In fact, he was commenting about his own cousin who recently died. We apologize for the error.”
Sanchez doesn’t even admit that it was plain to see on Feely’s Twitter page that he wasn’t talking about Henry. His apology is not for poor research, but for just not knowing who Feely was referring to.
Sanchez repeatedly misinforms to make stories more sensational or to push his own point of view. It isn’t that this example of horrible reporting is that big of a deal on its own. But it adds yet another example to the increasing list of problems with Sanchez’s work. Such poor journalism matters a great deal when Sanchez covers health care reform, environmentalism, terrorism, or immigration. Therefore I echo my call to CNN to please fire this fake journalist. He continues to hurt the CNN reputation for being real news.
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