CNN executives explicitly told their investigative team to stop looking into potential ties between the Trump administration and Russia following a series of high profile reporting errors led that to the resignation of three journalists in June.
Executives transferred all reporting duties associated with the Trump-Russia narrative to CNN’s Washington, D.C. team in the wake of a retracted June report, members of the CNN staff told The New York Times.
The report in question was removed from CNN’s website after the network admitted it could not stand by information that tied then Trump advisor Anthony Scaramucci to a Russian investment bank under Senate sanctions.
CNN’s president, Jeffrey A. Zucker, led an investigation into the mishap and found that the story, written by Pulitzer finalist Thomas Frank, was published over the concerns of CNN’s legal team. The investigation revealed that key aspects of Frank’s reporting were based on one source, who expressed trepidation with how the information was presented before the story went to print, a fact Frank failed to relay to his colleagues.
The report came after a serious of embarrassments for the network, including the firing of hosts Reza Aslan and Kathy Griffin in response to inappropriate, and in Griffin’s case threatening, public messages directed at President Donald Trump. The story also came after CNN issued a correction on an article that inaccurately predicted details of former FBI Director James Comey’s congressional testimony.
The error was also particularly damaging to CNN’s brand as it occurred as Trump was harshly criticizing the network over charges of biased coverage.
Despite the retraction, CNN has never said the story was incorrect. The network merely states that it “did not meet CNN’s editorial standards.”
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