The Coast Guard has come out with a report noting that while its simulated maritime attack along the Potomac — at a time when President Obama was in the vicinity for an event well publicized in advance — may have been ill-advised, it did not violate internal policies.
Well. That is an accurate assessment. One wonders whether internal policies should be revised.
In truth the Fiasco on the Potomac was the sloppy result of various parties, all of whom deny having engaged in any sloppiness whatsoever except for the Coast Guard. So kudos to them.
According the report, the White House did not properly inform the Coast Guard of the President's activities. The commandant of the unit involved was unaware of Obama's event; had he known, he acknowledges, he would have rescheduled.
Robert Gibbs, the president's press secretary, denied the White House had any responsibility and blamed the media for the screw-up. Good grief. How cliche is that?
And what of the media? They weren't clean either. In this age of the immediate news cycle, when various media outlets are hysterical to get the news first, and get it online before somebody else does, old-fashioned fact-checking seems to have gone out the window. CNN rushed the story to air, with breathless commentary of the attack as it was supposedly occurring, only to later be embarrassed. A review of the Coast Guard incident, by AP's Eileen Sullivan, shows just how ridiculous CNN's coverage was: "The training exercise was considered routine, consisted of seven separate drills and involved speeding boats. Instead of actually firing any shots, one of the exercise participants said "bang, bang, bang" over the radio when shots would have been fired if a real event. The TV networks noticed the activity and confused the simulated chatter for actual events."
Bang bang? How does a credible news organization confuse the equivalent of a line from a game of Cowboys & Indians with the sound of genuine gunfire?
CNN turns the blame back on the Coast Guard, claiming that its news office did contact the Coast Guard media shop to get verification but couldn't get calls returned immediately. If that is true, perhaps some more "internal policies" should be established at the Coast Guard.