Good evening. Thank you for joining us. Before we get to tonight’s top stories, CNN would like to clarify — and in some cases correct — statements we made on the air yesterday.
As you know, most of the day’s coverage was devoted to the bold daylight robbery of a bank in downtown Peoria, Illinois, which led to a high-speed chase and, eventually, the capture of the suspected robbers. CNN stands by the bulk of its coverage, but we regret that in our urgency to bring you the news, we conveyed some details that later proved to be erroneous.
It was initially reported — not just by us but by several news outlets — that there were four suspects in the robbery. Surveillance video and eyewitness accounts confirm that in fact there were three: two masked gunmen in the bank, and a getaway driver. This may seem like a small error that doesn’t affect the overall content of the story, but it’s important to us at CNN as journalists to get even the minor details right. We apologize for that error.
We also misreported the death toll in the robbery as 10. The actual number should have been zero. Zero people were killed, and another zero people were injured (not 50). We based our reporting on chatter we heard on the police scanner, only to discover later that we were listening to an episode of “CSI: Miami.”
During our coverage, there was a brief period of confusion over whether the suspects had been arrested. Our sources within the police department told us that arrests had been made, and we reported that on the air. Then, when it was clear that the high-speed chase was still going on, and that no one had been arrested yet, we continued to report that arrests had been made. Our sources even called us back and were like, “No, sorry, we messed up, no arrests yet.” But we stuck to our story. We can report now that this was out of sheer stubbornness. We were hoping that our wrong information would somehow come back around to being right again. Which it sort of did, since they did arrest somebody eventually.
There came a point in our coverage when new information grew scarce, and our news anchors — concerned that merely repeating the known facts would bore viewers — began to engage in what’s known in the TV news business as “reckless speculation.” This is standard procedure taught in broadcast journalism courses, and we stand by the practice. We should not, however, have urged citizens of Peoria to set their houses on fire as a means of smoking out the fleeing robbers. We don’t know how this would have helped, much less why Piers Morgan said it.
We also regret misidentifying the suspects in the case. We received information from an anonymous source who turns out to have been mistaken. We apologize for the error, and we’d especially like to apologize to wrongfully accused Peoria residents Mike Rotch, Hugh Jass, and Heywood Jablowme.
In CNN’s effort to provide context for the story as it unfolded, we gave airtime to several analysts with expertise in relevant fields. We now realize, however, that it was unnecessary and unproductive to interview an actor who played the Hamburglar in a series of McDonald’s commercials. Also, he stole our hamburgers.
When the story first broke, before CNN reporters could arrive on the scene, we brought you coverage from our affiliate station in Peoria. It was later determined that we do not actually have an affiliate station in Peoria, and that what we were showing was a hoaxster’s Skype conversation mixed with footage from the film “Dog Day Afternoon” — which, in our defense, is about a bank robbery.
We also regret Wolf Blitzer.
It was reported that the bank robbers wore Lone Ranger masks over their eyes and carried sacks of money with dollar signs on them, like in cartoons. It was reported, in fact, by us. We reported it. Phrasing it in the passive voice doesn’t make it any less wrong.
This seems obvious in hindsight, but for the record we should state that at no point was Batman involved in thwarting the robbery.
As is often the case with chaotic, fast-breaking stories, there was conflicting information in some of the early reports. We can tell you now that Peoria, Illinois, is a city of about 120,000 people in the midwestern United States and not, as we said, a colony on the moon. The moon colony called Peoria has no inhabitants, and won’t for at least another decade, when terraforming is finished.
Hang on, I’m getting an update … yes, OK, there is no moon colony called Peoria. The moon colony that humans will use as their final outpost when the Earth becomes uninhabitable goes by a different na– does not exist. I’m being told — this is from a reliable source? OK, I’m being told the source is reliable — are you sure? Because we got burned yesterday. All right. CNN can now report with confidence that there is not a colony on the moon called Peoria or anything else.
We thank you for watching CNN and for trusting us to bring you the news as it happens. Now for tonight’s top stories. We have late-breaking news from Denver, Colorado, where stone gargoyles on the sides of downtown buildings are reportedly coming to life and devouring citizens. We’ll have more information on this story as it becomes available; in the meantime, CNN analyst John King is here with details on how to barricade your home against the threat of sentient gargoyles.