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WaPo’s Media Critic Rails Against CNN For Issuing ‘Weak’ Editor’s Note On 2017 Piece About Paul Manafort

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Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple criticized CNN on Wednesday for adding what he described as a “weak editor’s note” to a story about former Trump campaign adviser Paul Manafort.

Wemple devoted a Dec. 11 editorial to CNN’s decision Monday to apply an editor’s note to a 2017 story about Manafort following the Inspector General’s report on the FBI’s potential abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). The IG’s report undercut CNN’s article.

Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort arrives at the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse for a hearing on June 15, 2018. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort arrives at the E. Barrett Prettyman U.S. Courthouse for a hearing on June 15, 2018. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Wemple hit the 24-hour news channel for not correcting the story. He compared CNN’s move to one the outlet did in 2017, when editors retracted a story alleging the Senate was investigating a Russian investment fund “whose chief executive met with a member of President Donald Trump’s transition team four days before Trump’s inauguration.”

“Whichever CNN editor wrote this particular ‘editor’s note’ betrayed common editorial principles,” Wemple wrote. (RELATED: IG Report: Pro-Trump FBI Agent Texted ‘Start Looking For New Jobs Fellas’ On Day After Election)

He added: “To merely state that the original story was contradicted by the IG report is to abdicate the role of a news organization — to ferret out the truth — and drop this matter into the laps of readers.”

Here is the editor’s note Wemple is referring to:

On December 9, 2019, the Justice Department Inspector General released a report regarding the opening of the investigation on Russian election interference and Donald Trump’s campaign. In the report, the IG contradicts what CNN was told in 2017, noting that the FBI team overseeing the investigation did not seek FISA surveillance of Paul Manafort: “We were also told that the team also did not seek FISA surveillance of Manafort … and we are aware of no information indicating that the Crossfire Hurricane team requested or seriously considered FISA surveillance of Manafort.”

Wemple went on to say CNN’s report “provided grist for folks on Fox News eager to play up charges that the feds were out to get the Trump campaign.” CNN’s decision not to take further action was likely done because it “supported the president’s claims that the federal government had spied on his campaign,” Wemple suggested.

Such an editor’s note would likely not cause much of a stir in the media ecosphere, he added. “CNN embarrasses itself with weak “editor’s note” after its 2017 ‘exclusive’ on Paul Manafort was refuted by the IG report,” Wemple suggested in a tweet Wednesday that linked to his editorial. 

CNN has not responded to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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