On Monday, CNN announced that three network officials have resigned after a story was published that connected Anthony Scaramucci, an official on President Donald Trump’s transition team, to investigations associated with the Russian Direct Investment Fund was found to be false. The network stated the piece did not meet “CNN’s editorial standards” and was ultimately retracted.
As reported by The Washington Post, the article published by CNN and written by “CNN Investigates” reporter Thomas Frank focused on information from one unnamed source, and quickly came under fire regarding its accuracy. Matthew Boyle of Breitbart News called the article “baseless” while Sputnik News published a piece refuting the connection between RDIF and the Russian state bank Vnesheconombank, an institution subject to sanctions by the US government, that was contained within the article.
After being named in the piece, Scaramucci posted on Twitter saying, “It’s ok. I did nothing wrong. They like hitting friends of @potus who are loyal advocates on his behalf.”
CNN issued a formal retraction on Friday which included an apology directed at Scaramucci.
Scaramucci accepted the apology and referred to the decision as a “classy move” on the part of CNN.
After the story had been deemed to be false, three network officials were announced by CNN to be leaving their positions. Frank, the reporter involved with the piece, as well as Eric Lichtblau, the editor who worked on the article, and Executive Editor of “CNN Investigates” Lex Haris all left their jobs with the news agency.
The resignations followed an investigation that occurred over the weekend that was led by CNN executives. It was determined that proper procedures for publishing stories weren’t followed.
“There was a significant breakdown in the process,” said a source with CNN. “There were editorial checks and balances within the organization that weren’t met.”
CNN is not stating that all of the information in the story was incorrect. Instead, a CNN source said there was “enough concern” regarding some of the facts that “given the breach in process, we decided to pull it down.”
The issue highlights the longstanding conflict between CNN and President Trump’s administration. During a January press conference, Trump referred to the organization as “fake news.” More recently, Press Secretary Sean Spicer has had contentious words with CNN correspondent Jim Acosta, one of the more vocal opponents of the recent decision to prevent the use of cameras and audio recording devices during briefings.
This recent article isn’t the only example of poor editorial judgment on the part of CNN. A piece released before James Comey’s testimony before the Senate stated Comey would contradict claims made by Trump that said the former FBI director had confirmed Trump wasn’t the subject of an investigation. Instead, Comey asserted the claims were true.