CNN executives back in June explicitly told their investigative wing of reporters to cease looking at the Russia investigation after a series of high-profile reporting errors led to the resignation of three of the company’s top journalists.
The media company transferred all Russia probe reporting duties to its Washington, D.C.-based team, sources told the NYT in a piece published Wednesday.
It was painful for CNN executives after they seemingly gave detractors all the evidence needed that they were a fraud news organization at the end of June, when they published a story linking Anthony Scaramucci, a hedge-fund manager and Trump confidant, to a Russian investment fund supposedly being investigated by the Senate, which later turned out to be based on an extremely porous source.
When Thomas Frank, a veteran reporter who wrote the story; Lex Haris, executive editor of investigations; and Eric Lichtblau, an investigative editor and reporter hired from The New York Times in April, submitted resignations based off incorrectly publishing the story, Trump went down hard on the organization he had already been calling fake news.
“Wow, CNN had to retract big story on ‘Russia,’ with 3 employees forced to resign. What about all the other phony stories they do? FAKE NEWS!” Trump tweeted.
An investigation led by CNN CEO Jeffery A. Zucker into how the story was handled found that Pulitzer finalist Thomas Frank published the story despite concerns expressed by CNN’s legal team. The investigation revealed that the one source Frank relied on expressed concern over how the information he gave was presented in the article, a fact Frank failed to relay to CNN higher ups.
The error was by far the most damaging to the media company’s brand this year, but came amid a report they muffed on Comey’s statements to Trump at their infamous dinner in the White House and an embarrassing escapade with former employee Kathy Griffin.
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