Last week, CNN's "anonymous sources" finally came home to roost when the entertainment channel was forced to retract one of its "bombshell" Russian collusion stories, when it was apparently revealed that the whole thing was nothing more than CNN's latest, anonymously-sourced fake news debacle. Like most CNN stories on the topic, this one carried a salacious title ("Congress was investigating a Russian investment fund with ties to Trump officials") which implied some nefarious plot by the Trump administration to stage a coup in the United States. Within 36 hours, however, CNN was forced to retract the story and issue an apology to Anthony Scaramucci (presumably for the whole libel thing).
Then overnight, we reported that "the most trusted name in news" announced on Monday afternoon that three network officials are leaving their jobs over the incident: Frank, the reporter on the story; Eric Lichtblau, a recent CNN addition from the New York Times who edited the piece; and Lex Haris, the executive editor of “CNN Investigates.” The moves follow an investigation carried out by CNN executives over the weekend, with the conclusion that longstanding network procedures for publishing stories weren’t properly followed. “There was a significant breakdown in process,” says a CNN source. “There were editorial checks and balances within the organization that weren’t met.”
The official CNN statement: “In the aftermath of the retraction of a story published on CNN.com, CNN has accepted the resignations of the employees involved in the story’s publication.”
Regarding the personnel changes, a CNN source said, “The individuals all stated that they accepted responsibility and wanted to resign.” A compelling wrinkle in the saga of the story springs from the careful language in the editor’s note: “That story did not meet CNN’s editorial standards and has been retracted. Links to the story have been disabled. CNN apologizes to Mr. Scaramucci,” it reads. CNN is not bailing on all the factual representations in the story, however. “We pulled it down not because we disproved it,” says a CNN source, adding that there was “enough concern” on some factual points that “given the breach in process, we decided to pull it down.”
This was not the first time CNN has been caught reporting fake news recently (see "Looks Like CNN's Anonymous Sources Got This One Wrong") and we doubt it will be the last.