In a just world, it would be shocking enough to learn that one of the nation’s leading sources of television news was deliberately publishing fake news propaganda meant to make the president of the United States look like a traitor. But of course, we don’t have the luxury of living in that world anymore. So if we were to simply tell you that CNN published a story last week falsely smearing an associate of Donald Trump as having colluded with the Russians to remove U.S. sanctions, it would be, at best, just another example of the network’s unending, unstoppable bias towards Democrats. The president himself has derided CNN as “very fake news,” and their track record for false, misleading, biased stories more than earns them the title.
But what’s particularly surprising about their latest foray into unethical journalism is that they actually retracted and deleted the story. And what’s more, the story is threatening to erupt into a major scandal as the heads of the network try to salvage what’s left of CNN’s once-respectable reputation. The network, which utterly failed to internalize the lessons of the 2016 election, may finally be ready to take a serious look at how they are conducting their “news” organization. May finally be ready to make some changes that could put it back on serious ground. Could it be that CNN has finally seen the light?
The controversial story itself – published last Thursday and deleted a day later – used one anonymous source to build a fantasy narrative about Trump transition team advisor Anthony Scaramucci being under Senate investigation. Supposedly, Scaramucci met with the chief executive of a $10 billion Russian investment firm days before Trump’s inauguration and discussed the possibility of having the new president lift U.S. sanctions against Putin’s government.
In a sea of phony stories, this one was too phony to remain online. The network quickly removed it, saying it did not live up to CNN’s “editorial standards.” This was shocking by itself. Not that CNN removed the story, but that they actually have a set of editorial standards. We thought the network’s editorial standards basically amounted to a Post-It note saying: “Destroy Trump.” Who would have figured?
According to a report from BuzzFeed, the network has now told all staff that any stories involving Russia and the Trump administration must first be vetted by CNN’s top executives.
“No one should publish any content involving Russia without coming to me and [CNN Vice President] Jason [Farkas],” wrote CNNMoney executive editor Rich Barbieri in an internal email. “This applies to social, video, editorial, and MoneyStream. No exceptions. I will lay out a workflow Monday.”
BuzzFeed also quoted a network source who described the story as a “massive, massive f**k up and people will be disciplined.”
Scaramucci’s legal team was undoubtedly responsible for calling CNN’s attention to their latest unforgivable lapse in journalistic integrity, but it appears that this faux pas is going to have wide-ranging effects on how CNN covers the “Trump/Russia” story from here on out.
You can only publish fake news for so long before someone gets sick of your crap and decides to call you out in court. With any luck, CNN’s blunder will be a lesson not only to them, but to their liberal colleagues at MSNBC, The New York Times, and the rest of the mainstream “destroy Trump” media.