NEW YORK CITY — CNN, the Superman of liberal media that calls itself “the Most Trusted Name in News,” has been brought to its knees by a very fake news scandal that forced the network to yank a story and drop three employees. Now the New York Post appears to have found CNN’s Kryptonite — the threat of a major lawsuit.
The anti-Trump network’s reputation is in tatters after a major investigative “scoop” — on a supposed Senate Intelligence Committee investigation into alleged ties between a Russian investment fund and members of the Trump campaign — was pulled in its entirety from CNN’s website Friday and replaced with an editor’s note.
— CNN (@CNN) June 24, 2017
The retraction came after a Breitbart News investigation found numerous flaws and inaccuracies in the reporting. On Monday the site accepted the resignations of three high-profile employees over the botched hit job, including a Pulitzer Prize winner and the reporter of the story itself.
The network has apparently been shaken to its core, ordering all Russia-related stories to be run through senior management via a new workflow. CNN President Jeff Zucker has also taken a personal interest in the investigation, while the network is considering a prime-time shakeup.
But now the Post reports, with a front page calling CNN “The Most Busted Name in News” that it was the threat of an eye-watering $100 million lawsuit from Anthony Scaramucci — a Trump ally named in the CNN hit job — that forced the network’s hand into pulling the report. The paper reported that CNN top-dogs feared that a major lawsuit could put a pending media merger with AT&T, currently being examined by the Justice Department, in doubt.
“The cable network’s coverage of Trump transition team member Anthony Scaramucci came amid federal scrutiny of corporate parent Time Warner’s pending purchase by AT&T — and the widespread belief among media execs that CNN President Jeff Zucker can’t survive a merger,” the Post reported.
The editor’s note published late Friday apologized to Scaramucci by name, but the Post reports that Scaramucci is still considering his options.
“Scaramucci got an unusual public apology but still hired a top Manhattan lawyer to put further pressure on CNN and “look after [his] interests in this matter,” a source told the Post.
The paper also reported that the three employees who resigned did not so much fall on the swords themselves, but were given a sharp shove by management.
“They called them in and said they’d pay out their contracts, but they should leave immediately,” a source told the Post.
The fake news scandal has arguably put CNN at its lowest standing since Jeff Zucker took the reigns of the left-wing network in 2013.
Even fellow anti-Trump outlet the Washington Post couldn’t resist taking a ding at CNN Wednesday, snarkily putting the error in part down to the “zeal” to break news fast, noting the “pressure to produce scoops that draw ratings and Web traffic, and to stay competitive with the likes of the New York Times and The Washington Post, which have been leaders on the Trump-Russia story.” (The snark seems slightly cocky, considering the Post itself has been caught in a number of errors on its Russia reporting.)
The WaPo notes that this is the first retraction CNN has seen since Zucker took charge. But the many enemies of CNN are now smelling blood in the water.
The New York Post reported that CNN staffers are furious that they have lost what they see as “the moral high ground.” But the mood at the White House couldn’t be more different. President Trump mocked CNN on Twitter, teasing big management changes.
Fake News CNN is looking at big management changes now that they got caught falsely pushing their phony Russian stories. Ratings way down!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 27, 2017
Meanwhile, an attendee of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s wedding Saturday told the Post that Scaramucci was getting “endless slaps on the back” over CNN’s humiliation at the celebration.
“Everyone at the White House has been high-fiving each other over Anthony’s success in embarrassing CNN,” the source said.
Adam Shaw is a politics reporter for Breitbart News based in New York. Follow Adam on Twitter: @AdamShawNY