Three CNN employees have resigned over a retracted story linking President Trump to Russia, the network announced Monday.
The three employees are Thomas Frank, who wrote the story in question; Eric Lichtblau, an editor in the unit; and Lex Haris, who oversaw the unit.
“In the aftermath of the retraction of a story published on CNN.com, CNN has accepted the resignation of the employees involved in the story’s publication,” a network spokesperson said in a statement Monday.
On Thursday, CNN investigative reporter Thomas Frank published a report involving an investigation of a Russian investment fund with possible ties to several Trump associates. According to CNN, an internal investigation claimed to have found that “some standard editorial processes were not followed when the article was published.”
Citing a single unnamed source, the story claims Congress was investigating a “Russian investment fund with ties to Trump officials.” On Monday, CNN explained that “these types of stories” usually would go through several departments, including fact-checkers, journalism standards experts and lawyers.
But according to the network, there was a “breakdown in editorial workflow” which “disturbed the CNN executives who learned about it.”
The network’s investigative unit was told during a meeting on Monday that the retraction did not necessarily mean the facts of the story were wrong. But, rather, “the story wasn’t solid enough to publish as-is,” according to one of the people briefed on the investigation.
The story, which only appeared on the network’s site, was quickly disputed on Friday. Trump ally Anthony Scaramucci, who was referenced in the story, took issue with Frank’s reporting, and insisted he “did nothing wrong.”
“Once it was determined that editorial processes were not followed, CNN deleted the story from CNN.com,” the network said Friday on its site. “Soon thereafter, the story was officially retracted and replaced with an editor’s note.”
The piece “did not meet CNN’s editorial standards and has been retracted,” the note said. “Links to the story have been disabled.” An apology was also issued to Scaramucci.
“CNN did the right thing. Classy move. Apology accepted,” Scaramucci tweeted the next morning. “Everyone makes mistakes. Moving on.”
Haris, Lichtblau and Frank had a solid reputation among their colleagues.
Frank worked as reporter for USA Today and Newsday before joining CNN. Lichtblau is a former New York Times Pulitzer-Prize winning reporter. And Haris was the executive editor of CNN Investigates.
“On Friday, CNN retracted a story published by my team. As Executive Editor of that team, I have resigned,” Haris said in a statement. “I’ve been with CNN since 2001, and am sure about one thing: This is a news organization that prizes accuracy and fairness above all else. I am leaving, but will carry those principles wherever I go.”
Breaking: 3 CNN journalists have resigned after the publication of an article that was retracted. Here’s my story https://t.co/iqzSK1VORH
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) June 26, 2017
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