The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on Wednesday chastised the media after incorrect reports claimed a suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing was in custody.
The agency warned media members to more carefully vet stories on the investigation and said that spreading misinformation could have “unintended consequences.”
“Over the past day and a half, there have been a number of press reports based on information from unofficial sources that has been inaccurate,” the FBI added. “Since these stories often have unintended consequences, we ask the media, particularly at this early stage of the investigation, to exercise caution and attempt to verify information through appropriate official channels before reporting.”
The warning came after a flurry of conflicting reports from Boston on the status of the FBI’s investigation into Monday’s deadly bombing.
CNN and the Associated Press reported that a suspect had been arrested, but later had to walk those claims back.
The FBI admonishment comes a day after Sen. Chris MurphyChris MurphyUS to step up support for Saudis, says Pentagon chief Dem senator: Trump 'politicizing' position of Surgeon General Top financial services lobbyist departs for trade association MORE (D-Conn.) offered a similar criticism, suggesting that the frenzied media coverage would hamper the work of investigators.
“I think as we’ve already seen so much of the reporting has been wrong,” Murphy said on MSNBC. “Initial reports of far more than three dead, reports of multiple explosive devices beyond those that were at the scene.
“I just think everybody including everybody in the press needs to chill out here,” he continued. “Let the investigators do their work. Hopefully they have some leads here that are going to get them somewhere, but I don’t think we want the public information to get ahead of the private information.”
Murphy cited the furious scramble by media organizations to break news after two explosive devices detonated near the finish line of Monday's Boston Marathon, killing at least three people and injuring more than 100.
Some initial media reports said that there were multiple explosive devices planted across the city, a claim that has since been debunked.
Some media sources also latched on to a report that police identified a Saudi national in the U.S. on a student visa as evidence the attack was a foreign terrorist operation, although at the time police hadn’t publicly identified any suspects or made any arrests. The student was later cleared.