Cable news networks just can’t seem to get their facts straight when it comes to publishing purportedly damning reports about the Trump campaign’s efforts to “collude” with the Russians.
Last week, ABC News suspended reporter Brian Ross after Ross reported that Mike Flynn had agreed to testify that Trump ordered him to reach out to the Russian government during the campaign – something that, if true, would’ve validated the mainstream media’s collusion narrative and potentially placed the president in serious legal jeopardy.
Shortly after publishing its initial report, ABC was forced to issue a crucial correction: Flynn actually planned to testify that Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner ordered him to reach out to representatives of the Russian government during the transition. This changed the whole context from something that would’ve been overtly illegal to something much more mundane. The correction was issued – but not before the Dow shed 350 points.
Today, it was CNN’s turn to bungle a “bombshell” concerning the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks.
To wit, Trump’s favorite fake news network has issued a correction to a Friday morning “exclusive” claiming that Donald Trump Jr. and other campaign staff received a directive from WikiLeaks to download a trove of emails stolen from the DNC before those emails were made public. CNN initially claimed the WikiLeaks email was dated Sept. 4 – ten days before the watchdog publicly released its filings.
As it turns out, the email was dated Sept. 14. The documents had actually been made publicly available earlier that day. WikiLeaks was merely trying to draw the Trump campaign’s attention to the documents.
So, two of CNN’s ace political reporters managed to write a “bombshell” story, which presumably made it through at least one round of edits, and was also probably reviewed by the network’s legal department, without anybody double-checking the date of the email – the crux of the entire. For what it’s worth, CNN said it based its story on the accounts of two sources who had seen the email. But this just highlights the dangers of relying on second-hand information, and should make readers question the next anonymously sourced story they see.
Here’s the correction posted on CNN’s website:
Washington (CNN)Correction: This story has been corrected to say the date of the email was September 14, 2016, not September 4, 2016. The story also changed the headline and removed a tweet from Donald Trump Jr., who posted a message about WikiLeaks on September 4, 2016.
And the on-air correction:
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) December 8, 2017
After the correction was appended, the original story was altered to reflect these changes:
Candidate Donald Trump, his son Donald Trump Jr. and others in the Trump Organization received an email in September 2016 offering a decryption key and website address for hacked WikiLeaks documents, according to an email provided to congressional investigators.
The September 14 email was sent during the final stretch of the 2016 presidential race.
CNN originally reported the email was released September 4 — 10 days earlier — based on accounts from two sources who had seen the email. The new details appear to show that the sender was relying on publicly available information. The new information indicates that the communication is less significant than CNN initially reported.
After this story was published, The Washington Post obtained a copy of the email Friday afternoon and reported that the email urged Trump and his campaign to download archives that WikiLeaks had made public a day earlier. The story suggested that the individual may simply have been trying to flag the campaign to already public documents.
CNN has now obtained a copy of the email, which lists September 14 as the date sent and contains a decryption key that matches what WikiLeaks had tweeted out the day before.
The email came two months after the hacked emails of the Democratic National Committee were made public and one month before WikiLeaks began leaking the contents of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s hacked emails. It arrived about a week before WikiLeaks itself messaged Trump Jr. and began an exchange of direct messages on Twitter.
In a statement, CNN’s communications department acknowledged that the reporting was incorrect…
CNN PR statement on that corrected story (fixing initial tweet which cut part off) pic.twitter.com/mnqzuun0lS
— andrew kaczynski? (@KFILE) December 8, 2017
Meanwhile, Donald Trump Jr. lashed out at the network in a tweet, where he suggested that Jeff Zucker & Co. apologize to “the 2 or 3 people who still believe you are credible.”
I know you can’t help but spread #fakenews @cnn, but now that you know the truth you should have the decency to retract the false story, make the correction, take down the bs tweet, and apologize to the 2 or 3 people that still believe you to be credible #yourewelcome https://t.co/bjL6mSdaii
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) December 8, 2017