CNBC: Ebbers Gets 25-to-Whatever

As of this evening, CNBC is airing new “First on CNBC” commercials, touting the network’s scoop this afternoon on the sentencing of WorldCom chief Bernie Ebbers. But the spots are understating just how exclusive the breaking-news report was: CNBC’s initial live bulletin announced that Ebbers had been sentenced to 30 years in prison–five years more than he actually got.

Federal judge Barbara Jones ruled the 30-year sentencing guideline “excessive” in Ebbers’ case, giving him a 25-year hitch. CNBC came back a few minutes later to offer a corrected bulletin, which the network is now using in its promos.

By the time the corrected report went out, though, Reuters had already picked up the bad 30-year version of the story–attributing it to CNBC.

–Leon Neyfakh