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Broken News: Under-Caffeinated CNN Producer Holds Wolf Blitzer Hostage

By Dave Fox
Singapore

I stumbled blearily to my living room this morning, turned on CNN, turned on my espresso maker, and flopped down on my couch to worry about important world events such as Vladimir Putin’s tantrum in Ukraine, and and what the hell had happened to my espresso.

What had happened to my espresso was that I was so bleary, I had not pushed the button that makes the coffee come out of the machine. What was happening on CNN was that news anchor Wolf Blitzer was being held at gunpoint on live television, along with the UN Envoy to Ukraine, Robert Serry.

I groped at my coffee table for the espresso cup that still wasn’t there, and blinked at the headline on my TV screen. Could this be true?

“EXCLUSIVE,” it said. “U.N. ENVOY HELD AT GUNPOINT LIVE WITH WOLF.”

CNN Wolf Blitzer headline 1

And Wolf Blitzer was sounding like his usual, calm, teddy-bearish self as he interviewed Serry.

As it turned out, I was not the only bleary-eyed soul in the world. A CNN producer was also suffering from caffeine deficiency.

Wolf Blitzer was not being held at gunpoint on live television. Neither was Robert Serry. Earlier in the day, Serry had been detained by armed men. He was free now, chatting on the phone with Blitzer, who was also safe and cozy in his Washington, DC, newsroom.

A minute later, CNN amended the text to say, “LIVE WITH WOLF: U.N. ENVOY HELD AT GUNPOINT.”

CNN Wolf Blitzer headline 2

The added colon and change in word order were an improvement, though still open to misinterpretation.

Nevertheless, I figured out there was no live television hostage standoff. I stumbled back to my kitchen and pushed the espresso button so I could begin my workday with better accuracy than CNN.

Personal note to Wolf Blitzer’s producer: When you work in the news business, grammar and punctuation are important. So is coffee. If you send me your name and address, I will send you a Starbucks gift card. I think you could use a triple mocha.

Published on Thursday, March 6, 2014

One Response to “Broken News: Under-Caffeinated CNN Producer Holds Wolf Blitzer Hostage”

  1. March 23, 2014 at 11:48 AM

    Punctuation is the difference between knowing your shit or knowing you’re shit. It is an easy mistake to make.

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