'I am mad at the world'
Outrage at Sago Mine
By Miles O'Brien
Editor's note: In our Behind the Scenes series, CNN correspondents share their experiences in covering news around the world. Programming Note: Miles O'Brien on the investigation into the miscommunication at Sago, American Morning, Thursday 6 a.m. ET.
CNN's Miles O'Brien follows the path of a rumor that everyone wanted to be a fact.
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SAGO, West Virginia (CNN) -- Let's face it: We all desperately wanted it to be true. We wanted the improbable to happen in the worst way. So when we heard a dozen miners were alive, we all ran with it. Practically skipped.
This is human nature any old day -- but particularly in the context of the times (post-Katrina et al). I think we all yearn for something -- anything -- to celebrate.
Something that transcends human misery -- lifts us all up. We know how delightful a dose of this narcotic can be.
The story of the Quecreek Mine rescue still resonates for most of us. So you can see how a misspoke or misheard missive from a subterranean rescue worker wearing a respirator could snowball.
The command center hears what it wanted to hear. The workers can't wait to share the news. Out come the cell phones and in an instant a Defcon 5 rumor attack is set inexorably in motion.
Twenty minutes after the cheering subsided in that same center, they knew the real, awful score. No fast phoning this time. No one wanted to make that call. And for way too long, no one did. Human nature again.
But Mother Nature abhors a vacuum, and so an echo chamber of unconfirmed confirmations reverberated across Upshur County, West Virginia.
Throw in 24-hour live cable coverage and the unfortunate coincidence that the false hopes reached a crescendo as newspapers on the East Coast were being put to bed, and you have a horrible emotional dead-end amplified to global proportions.
Mark Twain was prescient about a lie getting halfway around the world before the truth can get it pants on.
Such a sad mix. Really a perfect rumor storm.
I arrived on the scene just as the the euphoria evaporated, and spoke with one of the miners' relatives. They were devastated. As Anna Casto said to me "I am mad at the mine, the governor and you -- and I don't even know you. I am mad at the world."
She is entitled.
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