Yet Another Retraction by CNN
CNN has issued over 1,000 retractions since 2001 and it’s getting worse. In yet another botched story, some say worse than the ABC story, CNN is found in the crosshairs of alt-media companies and reporters for their fake news.
Many of you may remember a few big retractions that ended up in reporters resigning from CNN because of the f*ckery.
FROM: Washington Examiner
CNN thought it had a major scoop indicating Donald Trump and his inner circle coordinated with Russian-aligned operatives in 2016 to tilt the presidential election.
CNN was wrong.
“Exclusive: Email shows effort to give Trump campaign WikiLeaks documents,” read the titillating headline.
The story claimed the 2016 GOP nominee, his son Donald Trump Jr., and various campaign advisers received an email in September 2016 offering them advance access to an impending WikiLeaks dump of emails stolen from Democratic National Committee staffers and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, John Podesta.
The CNN report hinged entirely on an email that was supposedly sent on Sept. 4. The September email to Trump and his team included a “decryption key and website address” for the WikiLeaks dump, the article added.
There’s a major, glaring error in this story, which CNN promoted all Friday morning and into the afternoon.
The email upon which the entire story hinges was sent on Sept. 14, not Sept. 4, meaning the email merely pointed Trump’s team to a trove of already-public hacked DNC documents.
Note the date of this WikiLeaks tweet:
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) September 13, 2016
Now note the date of the email referenced by CNN, a copy of which was obtained by the Washington Examiner:
The difference between Sept. 4 and Sept. 14 is difference between someone merely flagging already public information and someone quietly slipping the GOP nominee and his team advance access to hacked correspondences.
It’s the difference between a story suggesting Trump and his team had an inside man for the DNC hacks and a story suggesting the Trumps receive a lot of crank emails.
“What a colossal fuck up,” one CNN reporter told the Examiner Friday in response to the story’s unraveling.
So what went wrong? For starters, let’s look at CNN’s source material.
The Sept. 14 email was uncovered by the House Intelligence Committee, which is investigating Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 election. Federal investigators are currently poring over thousands of emails sent and received by Trump officials and family members, which means they’re also looking into spam and junk email mails.
Donald Trump Jr., who was copied on the Sept. 14 email, was asked about the note this week during a closed-door session with committee members. How the contents of that email got into media hands is anybody’s guess, but it’s not the best look for the committee.
CBS News also misreported independently that the email was dated September 4.
The Post and the Wall Street Journal, both of which acquired a copy of the Sept. 14 email, handled the story a little differently. Where CNN and CBS saw a major scoop, the Post and the WSJ saw an email lacking in credibility.
The Journal’s Rebecca Ballhaus, for example, noted Friday that there were serious problems with the note.
“The Sept. 14 email to Trump campaign advertising WikiLeaks emails promoted publicly available info, was riddled with typos and came from a Trump backer who had given $40 to the campaign months earlier, per email viewed by @WSJ,” she tweeted.
CNN and CBS have since corrected their erroneous reporting.
“CNN’s initial reporting of the date on an email sent to members of the Trump campaign about Wikileaks documents, which was confirmed by two sources to CNN, was incorrect,” a network spokesperson said.
Perhaps it’s a little thing, but “two sources” seems a long way away from the article’s original claim that the email was “described” by “multiple sources” and “verified” by Trump Jr.’s attorney.
CBS, for its part, added an editor’s note Friday that reads, “An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the email was dated Sept. 4, 2016, instead of Sept. 14, 2016. The information was erroneously confirmed by a source, who subsequently sent the actual email to CBS News confirming the Sept. 14 date.”
This latest bungle by CNN is reminiscent of when the network retracted a story in June that alleged incorrectly that Congress was investigating a “Russian investment fund with ties to Trump officials.” Three CNN reporters also resigned over that story. Network spokespersons explained at the time that the faulty reporting was published because it had managed somehow to avoid the company’s normal guidelines for fact-checking.
However, unlike that situation, there will be no disciplinary action taken this time, a CNN spokeswoman said, explaining that “multiple sources” provided their reporters “with incorrect info.”
It’d be one thing if a single source botched the date. It’d be one thing if CNN was the only media outlet to run this story. But when you have “multiple sources” providing the same incorrect date, and two newsrooms running the same bogus information independent of each other, you may have something much worse than a simple numerical mistake on your hands. You may have an intentional effort by certain political operatives to spread misinformation.