Young men on cover are quickly cleared
(Update: The young men who appeared on the Post cover have been cleared, the paper says)
The New York Post ran a front page photo Thursday of two men it said authorities were seeking as they investigate the Boston Marathon bombing. But by afternoon it reported that they had been cleared, as the FBI said it was seeking two different men as suspects.
And so, it turned out, the Post had yet again focused suspicion on two people who had nothing to do with a high-profile crime.
The Post stopped short of saying the men on its cover were potentially involved — but the insinuation was obvious. Authorities have said the bomber or bombers left bags packed with explosives near the finish line.
Salah Barhoun, a 17-year-old runner who was one of the men singled out on the Post cover, told ABC News he went to the police to clear his name after his photo circulated. He said he had wanted to run in the race, and decided to watch it when he couldn't take part.
The Post said law enforcement authorities were circulating photos of the two men among themselves, citing what it said was an internal email.
The Post cover came a day after several outlets — including CNN, Fox News, and the Boston Globe — had to walk back reports of an arrest in the case after federal authorities denied it.
After Monday's bombings, the Post played up a report that authorities had questioned a Saudi man, who was later cleared of any involvement.
The Post has been accused before of going too far in its treatment of people who later turned out to be innocent.
Last year, it referred to a man accused of being a subway groper as a "dapper fiend" before he turned out to be utterly innocent. Although the Post has since reported on his lack of involvement, the story with the "dapper fiend" reference remains online today.
This week, "The Central Park Five," a documentary that aired on PBS, made the case that the Post and other media outlets contributed to a rush to judgment in an infamous rape case in which five young defendants were later cleared.