CNN runs bogus story saying
asteroid has 1 in 2.04 odds
of destroying Earth
The original post was taken down with the explanation that
NASA has now confirmed that the story is false.
A spokeswoman for NASA-JPL said the story ran for hours after she informed CNN that the there was no 10-mile asteroid headed for Earth, at least as far as NASA knows.
Before they pulled the post, Keith Cowing of NASA Watch captured a screenshot showing the CNN logo and a headline, "Giant Asteroid Possibly on Collision Course with Earth."
Here's a bit from Cowing's screen grab:
The grammar is wonky. The style suggests the writer might be lampooning overblown science writing.
The message is clear enough. It's not a nice thing to contemplate the first day back at work after a three-day holiday weekend, but the good news is that it looks like the only impact story here is the fact that the cable news network has slammed the Earth with an enormous bolide of B.S.
The post is from iReports, which is apparently an experiment in citizen journalism. CNN lets random people with no qualifications post stories under the CNN banner. The asteroid scare illustrates the hazard of this approach.
Apparently ireporters don't need to reveal their names.
report's author has called himself, or herself,
story says the giant asteroid was spotted by a project called the
Near-Earth Object Wide Field Infrared Survey Explorer (NEOWISE), which
really exists. The date for the lethal encounter is March
According to Seth Borenstein, who tipped off the Tracker, the alarming post was up for 22 hours. By that time, he noted, it had had more than 200000 visits and 22000 shares.
Helping boost the hits were tags:
If you Google CNN and asteroid you will find dozens of people have already reposted the "news" with comments and some concern.
I emailed Keith Cowing to find if there was any NASA announcement that might have been misinterpreted or distorted.
That's lax standards at CNN, that is.
It looks like a prank. Marcus575 put some thought into making it read like a real news story, if not a particularly well written one. And like most hoaxes, there's a lesson in it. CNN has not responded to a request for comment.
The Tracker would also welcome comments from Marcus575.