On Friday's Rick's List, CNN's Rick Sanchez revisited a story he did on Tuesday where he forwarded Islamic group CAIR's publicity stunt about a Virginia license plate that apparently contained racist messages. The Washington Post, as well, updated their story on Friday, pointing to the driver's apparent Facebook page, which contained white supremacist messages, but CNN was unable to confirm their report.
Schulte followed through with an article on Thursday, after the owner of the truck, Douglas Story, contacted The Washington Post to claim that the numbers actually represented his favorite NASCAR drivers, Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt, Jr., who race under those respective numbers. Story was forced to get a new license plate after the Virginia DMV recalled his plate.
On April 22 and 27, CNN and The Washington Post both helped forward Islamic advocacy group CAIR's publicity stunt which demeaned an anonymous Virginia motorist as a racist. The Post finally found the driver on Thursday – and apparently, both news outlets jumped the gun, as the owner claimed that the numbers on his license plate were a tribute to his favorite NASCAR drivers, not secret code for “Heil Hitler.”
Anchor Rick Sanchez devoted a brief on his Rick's List program on Tuesday to presenting CAIR's side of the story on the controversy. After showing a picture of the pickup truck and the plate in question, as well as the anti-Islamic message on the truck's tailgate, Sanchez explained that "CAIR...also noticed the vanity license plate. It reads '14CV88.' CAIR says that is a coded hate message. We're told the number eight is for the eighth letter in the alphabet, 'H.' Two eights equals 'H.H.' for 'Heil Hitler.' Fourteen represents imprisoned white supremacist David Lane's motto about securing the future for white children." The anchor didn’t mention the owner’s side of the story.
Did anyone at CNN or the Washington Post consider the possibility that the story was underbaked until they communicated with the driver? Did they consider someone might find the driver and his truck and be spurred to angry talk and/or violence based on the media’s incomplete accounts? The Washington Post, at least, printed an update on Thursday to their initial article from the 22nd (the ball, obviously, is also in Sanchez's court now, as well, especially since he went after NewsBusters for not calling him before we took the "cheap shot" at him). The Post's Brigid Schulte returned to the scene of her incomplete story and provided the driver’s perspective in her Thursday article, "Virginia driver denies license plate had coded racist message."