An attempted terrorist attack caused massive chaos during Monday morning’s rush hour in New York City, but some CNN viewers could be in the dark because the network spent an inordinate amount of time covering an anti-Trump story about the president’s soda consumption while details of the chaotic situation unfolded.
At 8:45 a.m. ET a law enforcement official told reporters, including the Associated Press, that a man had a pipe bomb strapped to him when it went off on a New York City subway platform. That was roughly the same time that CNN was in the middle of a segment that featured the chyron, “NYT Report: Trump drinks a dozen diet cokes per day,” while a large graphic promoting Tuesday’s Election Night in Alabama took up a significant portion of the screen.
Viewers quickly took notice. Media crisis guru Yossi Gestetner tweeted, “More than an hour after the pipe-bomb story broke, CNN was busy with Trump’s diet Coke,” while another viewer asked, “Why are you talking about this!”
“Astonishing how quickly CNN pivoted from NYC explosion to ridiculous story Trump drinking a lot of Diet Coke,” Newsbusters Senior Editor Rich Noyes tweeted.
Media Research Center Vice President Dan Gainor used the situation to mock CNN’s recent ad campaign in which the network uses an apple in an attempt to combat its “fake news” reputation.
“U.S. News was talking about the bombing at 7:54. Nearly an hour later, CNN is whining about Donald Trump drinks Diet Cokes and watches too much TV instead of reporting about terrorism in New York City,” Gainor told Fox News. “CNN might tell you what it's giving you is an apple, but if it is, it's rotten.”
The suspected bomber was identified as 27-year-old Akayed Ullah and police have called the incident an "attempted terrorist attack." An "effectively low tech device" was detonated in a subway passageway just before 7:30 a.m., New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a news conference.
While viewers scrambled to hear the latest news, several people took to Twitter to mock CNN’s programming’s decision. Blogger Ann Althouse noted that the New York Times article that first mentioned Trump’s soda habit came out a few days ago and added, “CNN is hopeless,” after expressing frustration that CNN didn’t offer the live report on the attempted terror attack.
One user wrote, “CNN was talking about the bombshell reporting that @realDonaldTrump drinks 12 diet cokes and watches 4+ hours of TV news per day AFTER the news broke about the bombing in NYC. I kid you not!” while another joked, “We interrupt our story on the suicide bombing in NY subway to update the current tally on President Trump's daily consumption of diet cokes! We now return you to our regular broadcasting!”
The explosion reportedly occurred around 7:30 a.m. near 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue, NYPD and FDNY officials confirmed to Fox News. An NYPD source on the scene told Fox News a device went off, and there was a bomb strapped to a person. Port Authority police took down the suspected bomber at gunpoint, Port Authority Police Benevolent Association tweeted. A law enforcement official also told AP that police believe the explosive device was set off on a Manhattan subway platform.
Fox News reporters Katherine Lam and Greg Norman contributed to this report.