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CNN Criticized After Releasing Unverified Ferguson Audio

CNN's judgment comes into question after the outlet released unauthenticated audio purportedly capturing the gunshots that killed Michael Brown.
Posted at 7:17 PM, Aug 28, 2014

​There's been no shortage of criticism of how the media has covered Michael Brown's shooting and the protests in Ferguson. Some of that backlash is focused on CNN after it published a questionable audio recording that allegedly captured the gunshots that ended Michael Brown's life.

CNN says the track is audio of a man having a conversation with a friend over video chat while 10 gunshots are fired in the background.

This latest development in the already-controversial case has raised eyebrows, and now two of CNN's own analysts have questioned the authenticity of the tape. 

"For all I know, this is something that Howard Stern's punk people have been doing."

"When I heard this yesterday, I thought the exact same thing: It's a hoax. But maybe not. Maybe they will be able to authenticate it."

Throughout its coverage, CNN has admitted it had no way of proving the tape's authenticity — but also says it had no reason not to trust the recording's source.

Then there's this story — which takes 10 paragraphs before mentioning authorities have not confirmed the recording contains audio of the gunshots that killed Michael Brown.

A writer for conservative website Breitbart was pretty critical of how CNN handled its latest scoop. "Even if the audio ends up being authentic, the fact that CNN is now concerned over its authenticity and laying the groundwork to claim they were always skeptical, tells you how irresponsible the network is. The prejudicial audio never should have been aired prior to authentication."

And some members of the media now seem to be aligned with the CNN analysts who say the recording could be a hoax. A writer for The Washington Post says the recording "all sounds terribly awkward and strained."

And Rush Limbaugh wonders why the man heard speaking in the clip doesn't even react to the shots.

The Rush Podcast"I mean, here's apparently gunshots going on, close enough that this guy's computer microphone could pick 'em up and he doesn't even skip a beat.  He doesn't miss a beat."

It should also be noted CBS received the same audio earlier this week and, as TVNewser reports, decided not to run it because it could not be verified.

In fact, The Washington Post points out most major news outlets passed on the story even after CNN began its coverage. One of the few to pick it up was The New York Times. The Times' national editor says they decided to go with it when it was revealed the FBI was investigating. "The fact that this is now a piece of possible evidence being examined brought it for me into the reportable realm."

The FBI has questioned the man who made the recording but has not yet commented on its authenticity.

This article includes images from Getty Images.