CNN screwed up badly, and then did the right thing. They ran with a story with a single anonymous source that turned out to be false. CNN retracted the story and apologized for it, but that’s not all that happened.
Three CNN journalists, including the executive editor in charge of a new investigative unit, have resigned after the publication of a Russia-related article that was retracted.
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.
The story, which reported that Congress was investigating a “Russian investment fund with ties to Trump officials,” cited a single anonymous source.
These types of stories are typically reviewed by several departments within CNN — including fact-checkers, journalism standards experts and lawyers — before publication.
For all of the screaming and hair-pulling about “fake news,” the developments at CNN over the story, should satisfy some people. John Podhoretz tweeted the following:
2/ CNN acknowledged its own error and took action almost immediately. This is what people should want.
— John Podhoretz (@jpodhoretz) June 27, 2017
He’s exactly right.
People who work in the media screw up. It happens. I’ve had to make corrections to pieces I’ve written. It’s something that comes with the territory. Major screw-ups in journalism require more serious responses than minor errors. The CNN story is a perfect example as was the Dan Rather/Bush Was AWOL story.
Bias is something different altogether and dealt with accordingly. David Harsanyi breaks down how the press screwed up on describing the Masterpiece Cakeshop case headed to the Supreme Court.
The problem, of course, is people can’t accept what happened done and move on. So with some amusement, I saw this tweet from Sean Hannity:
Question of the Day: Do you think CNN has a credibility crisis? #Hannity
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) June 27, 2017
Naturally, Hannity’s supporters loved the question, and there are more responses containing variations of “fake news” than I can count.
That said, for Sean Hannity to question the credibility of CNN after he’s trafficked in the Seth Rich conspiracy is a textbook case of chutzpah. When Hannity was called out for it, he said:
I retracted NOTHING. I Rightly GAVE RESPECT to a grieving family that asked for it and was thanked by them. My investigation continues. https://t.co/e5w3Szvma2
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) June 27, 2017
Right. And OJ Simpson is still looking for the “real” killers. Hannity is not conducting an “investigation.” He’s engaging in the kind of garbage reserved for InfoWars. David French at National Review covered this:
Hannity and others have been “asking questions” and “raising concerns” that Rich was no ordinary DNC employee. Instead, disgruntled at the DNC’s treatment of Bernie Sanders, he may have leaked Democratic documents to WikiLeaks. He is the source of the document dump, not Russian hackers. Thus, the key elements of the Russian interference story are a hoax. There is no Russia scandal. Here’s Hannity:
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) May 22, 2017
Geraldo Rivera also laid out the elements in a tweet:
— Geraldo Rivera (@GeraldoRivera) May 22, 2017
Newt Gingrich got into the act as well:
”We have this very strange story now of this young man who worked for the Democratic National Committee, who apparently was assassinated at 4 in the morning, having given WikiLeaks something like 53,000 emails and 17,000 attachments,” Gingrich said.
“Nobody’s investigating that, and what does that tell you about what’s going on? Because it turns out, it wasn’t the Russians. It was this young guy who, I suspect, was disgusted by the corruption of the Democratic National Committee. He’s been killed, and apparently nothing serious has been done to investigative his murder. So I’d like to see how [Robert] Mueller is going to define what his assignment is.”
The reason people want to believe the conspiracy is because it relieves it allows people to think Russia played no role the hacking of the emails.
Interestingly enough, do you know who does not buy into the conspiracy? Seth Rich’s parents:
Law-enforcement officials told us that Seth’s murder looked like a botched robbery attempt in which the assailants — after shooting our son — panicked, immediately ran and abandoned Seth’s personal belongings. We have seen no evidence, by any person at any time, that Seth’s murder had any connection to his job at the Democratic National Committee or his life in politics. Anyone who claims to have such evidence is either concealing it from us or lying.
Still, conservative news outlets and commentators continue, day after painful day, to peddle discredited conspiracy theories that Seth was killed after having provided WikiLeaks with emails from the DNC. Those theories, which some reporters have since retracted, are baseless, and they are unspeakably cruel.
We know that Seth’s personal email and his personal computer were both inspected by detectives early in the investigation and that the inspection revealed no evidence of any communications with anyone at WikiLeaks or anyone associated with WikiLeaks. Nor did that inspection reveal any evidence that Seth had leaked DNC emails to WikiLeaks or to anyone else.
Contrary to what people think, Seth Rich’s murder, if it goes unsolved, would not be the first unsolved murder in Washington DC. It’s irresponsible for anybody at Fox News to float the theory that Seth Rich was killed by operatives at the Democratic National Committee without a shred of proof but that’s what people are doing.
The chest-thumping over CNN is in poor taste if you’re one that buys into the piffle that Hannity is selling.