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As details trickle in about the missing EgyptAir plane that crashed into the Mediterranean Sea on Thursday morning, it has become clear that CNN learned little from the intense criticism it received for its 2014 coverage of the downed Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
Sixty-six people boarded EgyptAir Flight 804 in Paris shortly before midnight on Wednesday. Less than three hours later, all radar contact with the plane was lost. The disappearance of the jet, which was due to land in Cairo, immediately sparked fears of a terrorist incident, a possibility that French President François Hollande said he could not rule out.
CNN immediately jumped on the story, as did most major news organizations—but CNN then proceeded to continually “break” news about the missing flight, even as investigators were still working to piece together the facts.
Thanks to Twitter, it is now possible to keep track of every time CNN uses its “breaking news” chyron—which is often, if not always.
Here is CNN breaking the news of Flight 804’s disappearance Wednesday night at 11:10pm ET.
Here is anchor Don Lemon breaking the news that Flight 804 was, at some point, traveling at a standard flight altitude of 37,000 feet.
Here is CNN breaking the news that Flight 804 was, in fact, an Airbus A320.
Here is CNN breaking the news that Flight 804 had no “special cargo” on board.
Here is CNN again breaking the news that the plane was missing roughly 40 minutes after initially reporting it missing.
Here is CNN breaking news already broken by another news organization.
Here is CNN breaking the news that there was no distress call from the plane.
Here is CNN breaking that same news approximately an hour later.
Here is CNN breaking news contradicting the news it broke 30 minutes before.
Here is CNN breaking what is possibly the first real news since the flight was declared missing: That there were 66 passengers on the plane.
Here is CNN breaking the news that any news they broke over the previous few hours hasn’t been confirmed.
Here is CNN breaking some news, we guess?
Here is CNN breaking the news that a missing plane isn’t on air-traffic controllers’ radar (about five hours after the plane was first reported missing).
Here is CNN breaking the news that the plane is missing, again, six hours after it went missing.
Here is CNN with more breaking news questions.
And so on, and so forth. You can follow @ATTENTION_CNN on Twitter for more of the same.
CNN’s attempts to stay ahead of its competitors at every turn have dredged up cringe-worthy memories of its Flight 370 flight coverage.
For instance, there is the time Don Lemon suggested the Malaysian flight could have been sucked up by a black hole. The network had already aired suggestions that something “supernatural” could have happened to the plane. At one point, CNN tried to rent an actual Boeing 777, presumably so that viewers would know what the inside of an airplane looked like. When that fell through, the company settled for a flight simulator in Canada.
Dell Cameron was a reporter at the Daily Dot who covered security and politics. In 2015, he revealed the existence of an American hacker on the U.S. government's terrorist watchlist. He is a co-author of the Sabu Files, an award-nominated investigation into the FBI's use of cyber-informants. He became a staff writer at Gizmodo in 2017.