One hour and 4 minutes before John Edwards began a news conference yesterday on the recurrence of his wife’s cancer, a two-month-old Web site blared what looked like a major exclusive: “Edwards to Suspend Campaign.”
In the this-just-in, get-it-out-now atmosphere of today’s wired world, the posting by Politico.com was quickly picked up by television. It was also flat wrong.
Reporter Ben Smith attributed his report that the former senator was suspending his presidential campaign — “and may drop out completely” — to an “Edwards friend.” Smith later apologized on his blog.
“It’s his error, but also ours as editors, because we knew the information he had and what his source was,” said John Harris, editor in chief of the Politico, a Capitol Hill newspaper and Web site. “I believe it’s a serious error. . . . In this case, he simply wrote more than he knew.”
The Politico had company. Reuters also moved a story saying that Edwards would suspend or end his campaign, according to a “Democratic Party source.”
Read the rest here.