There were no explosions, no rush of panic at the White House just after 1 p.m. on Tuesday. A look in the White House press basement would have yielded the same results you'd find any day around that time: Reporters cramped together, awaiting the much-delayed daily briefing (which, on this particular day, was 30 minutes and counting).
Still, Twitter had just lit up with the shocking news that President Barack Obama had been injured after two explosions at the White House—a message made perhaps even more plausible by the recent Boston Marathon bombings. The original post came from the Twitter account of the Associated Press: “@AP: Breaking: Two Explosions in the White House and Barack Obama is injured."
To those of us at the White House, the information was clearly false: No explosions had been heard and no announcements made. But the questions and concern quickly poured in.
One reporter immediately received a phone call from a colleague hoping to confirm the news was false. Another received worried instant messages. Several reporters used Twitter to try to dispel the news and announce that no disaster had befallen the White House. One such tweet:
from here in the WH basement, this acct seems hacked RT @ap: Breaking: Two Explosions in the White House and Barack Obama is injured
— E McMorris-Santoro (@EvanMcSan) April 23, 2013
But efforts were cut short as the two-minute warning was called and journalists quickly filed into the Brady Press Briefing Room.
There, before the official briefing by White House press secretary Jay Carney, AP's White House Correspondent Julie Pace announced that her organization's account had been hacked and that at the start of the briefing, when the cameras were rolling, she would be making a statement.
After Pace confirmed the hack on-camera, Carney added, a bit wryly: "The president is fine. I was just with him." The remark elicited some chuckles.
As Pace moved on to a question about Syria, tweets about AP's account being disabled began to appear and the markets briefly reacted—falling and bouncing back quickly.