This obviously went too far and was incorrect.
7:05 PM, CST: Jason Osborne tweets again that Carson is "Not suspending" his campaign. The "breaking news" story from CNN now had legs (also thanks to the Cruz campaign) and Osborne was trying to put out the fire.
7:07 PM, CST: A Cruz campaigner calls caucus volunteers reporting that Carson is dropping out of the race, encouraging them to inform voters.
This, again, was inexcusable, and while we can understand how the story spread, Sen. Cruz rightly took responsibility for this and apologized.
But there's more.
At 7:08 PM, CST, a full 24 minutes after the CNN TV report — meaning 25 minutes after Moody's second tweet and 15 minutes after Osborne's first tweet, both of which made clear that Carson was not suspending his campaign — @CNN tweeted: "After the #IAcaucus, @RealBenCarson plans to take a break from campaigning http://cnn.it/Iowa."
Why in the world was CNN sending this out?
By this time it was abundantly clear that the bigger news was, "No big news here! Dr. Carson is getting a little rest then resuming his campaign."
Why didn't CNN follow up immediately with, "But Carson's camp makes clear that he is continuing his campaign"?
Bill O'Reilly blasted CNN's Tapper-Bash-Blitzer "breaking news" report, calling it "false" and "flat out untrue," also stating that the "news agency screwed up big time and apparently doesn't care . . . ." (He also rebuked the Cruz campaign.)
While O'Reilly's criticism of CNN is clearly exaggerated, it is certainly deserved, as Mark Levin and others have pointed out.
To repeat: Jake Tapper, Dana Bash, and Wolf Blitzer (or, at the least, their people) had access to Chris Moody's tweets (after all, they credited him with "breaking" this story), yet they didn't feel the need to tell the whole world, "While we find this hiatus highly significant, we want to underscore that our man Chris Moody also reports that Dr. Carson is not suspending his campaign and that he plans to be in New Hampshire later this week."
Why, then, were the actions of the Cruz people considered so deplorable while CNN has no culpability at all?
More importantly, how long was it before CNN trumpeted on TV, "We have another breaking news story, this time from Dr. Carson's senior communications strategist, Jason Osborne, who wants to make clear that Dr. Carson is not suspending his campaign"?
To say it once again, Osborne apparently felt the need to send this out because of CNN's report, and still, CNN feels it did absolutely nothing wrong.
In fact, CNN's Brooke Baldwin (on Feb. 3rd) and Erin Burnett (on Feb. 4th) have been absolutely indignant at the thought that their network's initial report was misleading in even the slightest way, with Baldwin labelling the Cruz camp's explanation "B.S."
CNN also issued this official statement: "Senator Cruz's claims about CNN are false [namely, that their people simply shared the breaking news CNN reported]. At no point did the network indicate Dr. Carson would suspend his campaign.
"Our correspondent [meaning Chris Moody] reported the information provided to him by the Carson campaign. Dr. Carson's staff informed CNN that he would return home to take a 'deep breath' before resuming his activities on the trail. That information was reported accurately by CNN across TV and digital."
So, the Cruz campaign is guilty of not taking into account Moody's clarifying tweet whereas the entire CNN TV network is guiltless for not referring to their own reporter's clarification.
And the Cruz campaign is guilty of sending out notices that Dr. Carson was taking a break from campaigning (which, again, was true) while @CNN is not guilty of tweeting, "After the #IAcaucus, @RealBenCarson plans to take a break from campaigning http://cnn.it/Iowa." (And remember: This CNN tweet was sent out minutes after the Cruz campaign communications were sent out.)
CNN could have really helped its brand by saying, "We regret that our initial report, which was accurate in specific content, was stated in such a way that some misunderstood it, and we are sorry that we did not make clear immediately that Dr. Carson was not suspending his campaign."
Instead, CNN has protested its innocence vigorously.
Consequently, the next time CNN tells us that there is breaking news — did I say "breaking"? — news that is very unusual, yes, very unusual — did I say "very unusual"? — indeed, "very significant news," we should simply yawn and say to ourselves, "Obviously no big deal. Probably just a presidential candidate going home to rest for a few days before resuming his aggressive campaign."