During the early coverage of the death of Whitney Houston, around 8:40pmET, CNN entertainment reporter Alan Duke reported that singer Ray J. had discovered Houston’s body in her room at the Beverly Hilton. He sourced the news to a close friend of the hiphop artist. But a few minutes later, after hearing from Ray J.’s publicist, Duke went on the air to report that Ray J. “was nowhere near there when Whitney died.”
Apparently, someone from NBC was listening to Duke’s report because at 9:07, Jinah Kim reported on MSNBC, “sources are reporting Ray J. might have been in the room with her.” Websites followed.
Finally, about a half hour later, around 9:25, Duke came back on the air to report “it was another Ray… It was the bodyguard for Whitney Houston whose first name happens to be Ray who discovered her body,” said Duke. Anchor Don Lemon thanked Duke for clearing it up, adding “When we have these situations in the initial reporting there’s always things coming in.”
Yes. That’s true. But a little more caution in vetting that information can prevent bad reporting on your network, or even others.