Earlier this week, CNN published a story that reported on an alleged connection between associates of the president, including Anthony Scaramucci, and a Russian investment fund. This story stood to have an explosive impact, seeing as federal investigators have sought evidence of financial crimes on the part of the Trump team that may link them to Russian efforts to meddle in the 2016 presidential election.
There was just one problem, however — the story was based off the testimony of just one anonymous source. It was, basically, a rumor, and while acknowledging that the assertions of the story may be accurate, CNN executives deleted the story off the media outlet’s website and eventually issued a formal retraction. It never ran on the CNN television station.
Now, in the aftermath of that story running, three journalists have resigned from CNN, including individuals who are longtime veterans of the political news scene. Those journalists who have resigned include Thomas Frank, who wrote the actual story, Eric Lichtblau, who worked as an editor in the unit that produced the story, and Lex Haris, who oversaw the unit that produced the story.
Frank, who wrote the story at the center of the controversy, “was part of an ambitious new investigative unit that was created last winter, bringing together existing teams from within the company and new hires like Lichtblau.” CNN’s Brian Stelter adds that Lichtblau, one of the editors from Frank’s unit within CNN, joined the network only three months ago. Stelter describes Lichtblau as “[a] veteran of The New York Times who won a Pulitzer Prize for national reporting in 2006.”
The third journalist to resign from CNN in the fallout over this story, Haris, “was named the executive editor of CNN Investigates in January,” according to Stelter, and previously served as executive editor of CNNMoney.
As Haris noted in his statement announcing his resignation, he had been with the network for 16 years.
‘On Friday, CNN retracted a story published by my team. As Executive Editor of that team, I have resigned. 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.’
Although some on the right have proven themselves eager to seize upon this incident as an example of the “fakeness” that permeates American mainstream media, even Scaramucci, named in the allegations in question, has acknowledged that the network’s response to the incident was the best it could be.
Scaramucci wrote on Twitter:
‘@CNN did the right thing. Classy move. Apology accepted. Everyone makes mistakes. Moving on.’
— Anthony Scaramucci (@Scaramucci) June 24, 2017
Twitter users, including some notable personalities, agreed with the Trump aide. Check it out below.
Class move on your part too, @Scaramucci. More should follow your example on both sides!
— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) June 25, 2017
That is a classy reply, sir…
— Jack Schofield (@jackschofield) June 24, 2017
Anthony, you should as least get James Earl Jones to do your voice mail message out of this.
— Jeremy Newberger (@jeremynewberger) June 24, 2017
Apart from not properly vetting the story before running it-CNN handled the retraction appropriately and the apology was right thing to do.
— fred walton (@fredwalton216) June 24, 2017
— Diane Brady (@dianebrady) June 26, 2017
CNN’s Brian Stelter says regarding the story in question that the “breakdown in editorial workflow disturbed the CNN executives who learned about it.”
Editorial regulations at the network have now been tightened. Journalists are no longer permitted to publish stories related to Russia without consulting CNNMoney executive editor Rich Barbieri or CNN vice president Jason Farkas.
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