A retracted Trump-Russia collusion story by CNN’s “ambitious new investigative unit” has resulted in the resignation of three of the networks’ more widely-respected journalists.
In a sequence of events that’s proving to be bigger news than the since-deleted story purported to be, on Thursday CNN published what was supposed to be another Russiagate “bombshell.” The report, written by investigative journalist Thomas Frank, alleged that Donald Trump associate Anthony Scaramucci was under investigation by the Senate Intelligence Committee for alleged contact with a $10-billion Russian investment fund just days before Trump’s inauguration. The entire piece was based on a claim by a single, unnamed source. On Friday, CNN quietly deleted the “bombshell,” a move noticed by BuzzFeed, who questioned CNN about the mysteriously disappearing piece. “More than an hour later, an editor’s note appeared on CNN’s website,” Buzzfeed reported. “A company representative sent BuzzFeed News a link to the note, but did not answer other questions about why the story was removed.”
On Monday evening, CNN’s Brian Stelter reported that the network has accepted the resignations of three of the journalists involved in the publication of the article:
Thomas Frank, who wrote the story in question; Eric Lichtblau, an editor in the unit; and Lex Haris, who oversaw the unit, have all left CNN.
“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,” a spokesman said Monday evening.
An internal investigation by CNN management found that some standard editorial processes were not followed when the article was published, people briefed on the results of the investigation said.
Stelter goes on to retell the curious story of the publication, deletion, retraction, and now resignations and throws in some high praise for the men who are no longer CNN employees.
“These types of stories are typically reviewed by several departments within CNN — including fact-checkers, journalism standards experts and lawyers — before publication,” explains Stelter, clearly trying to help his network save face. “This breakdown in editorial workflow disturbed the CNN executives who learned about it.”