CNN, which has come under enormous scrutiny for its lack of editorial standards over the course of the 2016 presidential election, fell for a series of so-called “fake news” reports that hammered its own network on Friday.
Late Thursday evening on Thanksgiving, a Twitter user in the Boston area reported that CNN was airing hardcore pornography for 30 minutes through local provider RCN. The original report on those Tweets surfaced in The Independent, a leading left-of-center newspaper based in the United Kingdom. From there, the story spread like wildfire to many other media outlets including Variety magazine, the U.K. Daily Mail, the New York Post, Esquire magazine and Mashable, among others.
Throughout all of this, the Breitbart News Network team was aggressively researching television video capturing services like TV Eyes and Critical Mention, among others, and scouring social media looking for evidence. We reached out to CNN, asking at least two different spokespersons for comment on the matter and even asking the producer for resident media critic Brian Stelter’s program Reliable Sources for comment.
Breitbart News sent CNN spokeswoman Emily Kuhn a link to the Independent’s original post, asking: “Any comment on why CNN was airing this in Boston? Will anyone be held accountable?”
Kuhn didn’t reply. So Breitbart News also reached out to Stelter’s producer Shanta Covington, asking: “Wanted to see if Brian has any comment on why CNN was airing a half an hour of nonstop hardcore pornography? Does he still think you guys are a news organization?”
Covington, and Stelter, didn’t reply.
But, since this network has higher editorial standards than anyone else and seeks actual evidence before publishing such a story, Breitbart News still sought more evidence before rushing out there with something. No evidence emerged, which made our entire editorial team skeptical—we wondered how, if this aired for 30 minutes in a huge media market like Boston, there was no video emerging online of it?
Eventually, CNN actually confirmed that it did air “inappropriate content” and was seeking an “explanation” from RCN.
“The RCN cable operator in Boston aired inappropriate content for 30 minutes on CNN last night. CNN has asked for an explanation,” CNN said in its statement, seemingly confirming the impropriety.
Even pornography websites like Brazzers mocked CNN for it, saying that airing such pornography would amount to the “least offensive” thing the network has done in the last year.
But Breitbart News still wasn’t satisfied it actually happened and reached out to Kuhn once more with a link to a story from The Verge containing CNN’s admission of impropriety, a piece that called the entire fiasco “fake news.” Fake news is the new phenomenon emerging in the wake of Donald Trump’s landslide victory whereby establishment outlets are targeting new media outlets that are booming in growth while establishment media crumbles. So Breitbart News sought additional confirmation from Kuhn before publishing anything, trying to ensure that the accurate story was told when we eventually reported the news.
“They’re saying it’s ‘fake news,’” Breitbart News emailed Kuhn. “But CNN is confirming that ‘inappropriate content’ aired in the statement quoted here. So did CNN air pornography or not? We want to get the details correct, given Breitbart’s high editorial standards. Please let me know.”
Kuhn still hasn’t answered. But now, according to the originally incorrect report from Variety, which was based on the inaccurate piece from the Independent, both CNN and RCN are denying the reports CNN admitted to — that they aired inappropriate content for 30 minutes on Thanksgiving in Boston.
It turns out, even when the news is about CNN and the rest of the media, Breitbart News is one of the only places you can trust to take the time and make the effort to get it right before rushing click bait online. The rest of the media is compromised, even CNN — and CNN is even compromised when it comes to information about CNN.
This all comes in the wake of several legacy media outlet reporters admitting on Breitbart News Daily’s Thanksgiving radio special on SiriusXM 125 Patriot Channel that their industry faces significant credibility problems. Stelter, CNN’s media reporter, was invited on the show as well, but Kuhn told Breitbart News he was unable to make the time to appear outside CNN to defend CNN.