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Reports of Tom Petty’s Death Creates a Flurry of Confusion

Tom Petty/Getty Images

Tom Petty, the rocker whose famous voice and guitar licks were behind some of rock’s greatest hits, is still clinging to life according to Petty’s daughter via an Instagram post Monday evening. CBS News erroneously reported the rocker had died which created a flurry of reactions and remembrances across social media platforms.

According to a New York Times article, when CBS reported Mr. Petty’s death on Twitter, preceded by a capitalized banner “JUST IN,” the network attributed the news to the Los Angeles Police Department. In an article published online, there was no mention of the L.A.P.D., merely the phrase “CBS News has confirmed.” (CBS later deleted the tweet.)

Numerous news outfits, including Entertainment Weekly, Slate and HuffPost, soon posted articles about Mr. Petty’s death, all attributing the news to CBS and so did I.

But after the CBS report went online, the Los Angeles Police Department issued a statement they could not confirm his death, setting off mass confusion on social media over Mr. Petty’s actual condition.

The LA Police Department appeared to take the blame, saying on Twitter that “initial information was inadvertently provided to some media sources, and continued, “the LAPD has no investigative role in this matter,” it said in a second tweet. “We apologize for any inconvenience in this reporting.”

The “Free Fallin’” singer, 66, was found unconscious and not breathing in his Malibu home, and was subsequently taken to the UCLA Santa Monica Hospital.

Throughout his prolific career, Petty earned three Grammy wins and 18 nominations, and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002.

Petty performed in Oct. 1999 at the IWireless Center in Moline.

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