Friday’s big blunder … On Friday, CNN gleefully reported that there is finally “proof” of “collusion” between the Donald Trump campaign and Wikileaks during the campaign. Wikileaks is, of course, considered by CNN to be a de facto arm of Russian intelligence, so therefore, here was evidence of Russian collusion! Here’s the breaking news alert from CNN’s Kate Bolduan and Manu Raju at 11:00 a.m. ET. Note that the report said that Donald Trump Jr. received an email on September 4, 2016, about the as-yet unreleased Wikileaks DNC emails, and it included a nefarious-sounding “decryption code.”
Within two hours, the Washington Post’s Aaron Blake reported that CNN got it wrong. In fact, the email had been sent on September 14, 2016, which was after Wikileaks made the files public. That story was published around 1 p.m. At 3:49 p.m. ET, Manu Raju went on CNN to say that his reporting was wrong. That’s almost five hours after the original reporting and almost three hours after the Washington Post proved that the reporting was wrong. Worse yet, Raju never saw the document. He relied on anonymous sources who said they had seen it. CBS News also claimed to have independently verified the report and also offered a correction.
It’s the gloating, not the correction … CNN’s media critic/cheerleader Brian Stelter was quick to defend his organization, saying in his daily email Friday night that CNN’s journalistic standards had been followed, so Raju would not face disciplinary action. Over the weekend, Stelter had The Atlantic’s David Frum on his television program. Frum repeated a familiar refrain from Stelter. Frum said, “Mistakes are precisely the reason that people should trust the media … it’s the process of bringing truth to light.” I agree, openness and transparency are important for journalists to earn trust. But shouldn’t we also try to understand why CNN rushed to publish the incorrect story?
Manu Raju’s erroneous reporting pushed CNN’s narrative that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia. There is, of course, no concrete evidence of that, but it is what CNN has based an entire year of reporting on. The glee — no, gloating, really — of the network in pushing the story is why people don’t trust the news. No amount of correction afterward can make up for that. Until Stelter and his media allies understand that, they’ll never get why they are loathed by a vast swath of America. Remember, it is Stelter who, on almost a daily basis, blasts Fox News and other conservative outlets for focusing on the blatant partisans who are working for the Mueller probe. CNN has a narrative to protect — at all costs.
18 questions CNN needs to answer … The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway has a series of 18 questions that she believes CNN needs to answer after being caught on Friday. It’s well worth the read.
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It’s not just CNN? … The Washington Post’s Dave Weigel suffers from the same bias as CNN. Over the weekend, Weigel got himself in hot water after posting photos of a nearly empty venue where Trump was speaking. Weigel simply tweeted: “Packed to the rafters” with the photos and linked to a Trump tweet. Trump hit back hard via Twitter: “.@DaveWeigel @WashingtonPost put out a phony photo of an empty arena hours before I arrived @ the venue, w/ thousands of people outside, on their way in. Real photos now shown as I spoke. Packed house, many people unable to get in. Demand apology & retraction from FAKE NEWS WaPo!”
Weigel apologized to Trump, and the Washington Post said via press release that the paper would not fire Weigel. The reason Weigel got into hot water over this tweet is that he wanted it to be true. His bias, his loathing of the president, clouded his judgement. It is exactly the same thinking that got CNN in hot water on Friday. This isn’t surprising coming from Weigel. After all, Weigel was caught attacking conservatives and “rooting for Democrats” in emails to the “Journolist” email listserv.
“Doxing” of donors … Over the weekend, the Daily Beast reported on who funds James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas. The story was based on confidential IRS documents obtained by the organization. Donor information does not need to be disclosed by 501(c)3 nonprofits, but certain donations are reportable to the IRS. The Daily Beast did not disclose how it got the documents. If they were obtained from the IRS, that would be a serious problem. For his part, O’Keefe responded on Twitter: “Every time you dox a private citizen who writes a small charitable donation, you raise us more funds and another undercover Veritas Journalist gets his wings.”
Handler continues bullying Huckabee Sanders … Chelsea Handler promised us that she’d end her Netflix talk show. It hasn’t come soon enough. On Friday night, Handler continued her vicious attacks on White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Now she is calling Sanders “cult like,” and “brainwashed.” NewsBusters has a recap of the disturbing episode.
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Robert Eno is the editor of the WTF MSM!? newsletter and director of retention for Blaze Media.