CNN, other outlets report—and then retract—arrest in Boston Marathon bombings

Dylan Stableford
The Lookout
CNN building (The Atlantic Wire)

CNN and several other media outlets reported an arrest on Wednesday in the Boston Marathon bombings. Within an hour, those reports were retracted.

Shortly after 1:30 p.m ET, CNN's Fran Townsend, who served as a homeland security adviser under former President George W. Bush, reported that an arrest had been made in the case, citing law enforcement sources.

The Associated Press, Fox News and other media outlets followed, and local and national news networks broke into daytime programming to update viewers in the case. ABC, NBC and CBS did not report an arrest.

CNN and the AP said the suspect would be taken to the Federal Courthouse in Boston by federal marshals. Local news networks sent camera crews to the courthouse, where a large crowd began to gather.

CNN's John King, citing a law enforcement source, said the suspect thought to be in custody was seen placing a black backpack near the site of the second explosion, and that surveillance video taken from a nearby Lord & Taylor store was used to identify him.

But the Boston Police Department subsequently issued a statement on Twitter saying no arrest had been made.

The FBI issued a statement of its own: "Contrary to widespread reporting there have been no arrests made in connection with the Boston Marathon bombings."

Townsend said there was a misunderstanding with CNN's source and that no arrest has been made.

In an email statement from CNN a spokeswoman said, “CNN had three credible sources on both local and federal levels. Based on this information we reported our findings. As soon as our sources came to us with new information we adjusted our reporting.”

The AP and Fox News issued similar retractions.