CNN’s media reporting team addressed in its Tuesday newsletter the ongoing scandal over the network’s misleading reporting on Michael Cohen and the 2016 Trump Tower meeting–but left out key details.
The newsletter reads:
CNN’s critics continued to lampoon the network on Tuesday over its July story about the infamous 2016 Trump Tower meeting. The story, written by Jim Sciutto, Carl Bernstein, and Marshall Cohen, cited sources who said Michael Cohen was prepared to tell Robert Mueller that Trump knew in advance of the meeting that the Russians were expected to offer dirt on Hillary Clinton.
“Over the past week, Cohen lawyer Lanny Davis has publicly said he was one of the sources who confirmed the news to CNN and other media organizations,” it also adds. “Davis now says he cannot confirm the news. Davis’ walk back has prompted critics — a good chunk of whom belong to the right-wing media universe — to unleash a torrent of criticism on CNN.”
The newsletter, which was put together by CNN reporter Oliver Darcy (the usual writer of the newsletter, Brian Stelter, is currently on “vaycay“), reminds readers that “Davis walking back his claims doesn’t necessarily debunk CNN’s story.” The newsletter then points to a statement from a CNN spokesperson, who said, “We stand by our story, which had more than one source, and are confident in our reporting of it”:
— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) August 29, 2018
Now, this could be true. If CNN actually has another solid source or sources for their story, then Davis changing his story–which he might have done simply to save his client, Michael Cohen, from possible legal trouble–may not necessarily prove the story false.
However, that is not the only issue. As The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald points out, it may well be the case that CNN lied to readers completely by writing that Lanny Davis did not want to comment in its original story, when he was, in fact, a source.
As Greenwald wrote in The Intercept Tuesday:
Last night, BuzzFeed reported that Davis explicitly confessed that he was one of the anonymous sources for CNN’s July 26 story, just as he was for the stories from the Washington Post and the New York Post. Last week, CNN put Davis on the air with Anderson Cooper to deny that he was the source for that CNN story – a denial Cooper did not contest – but Davis now admits he was one of CNN’s sources, if not their main source.
Yet remarkably, CNN, in its July 26 story, specificaly claimed that Davis refused to talk to CNN about the story or provide any comment whatsoever.
Only one of two things can be true here, and either is extremely significant: (1) CNN deliberately lied to its audience about Davis refusing to comment on the story when, in fact, Davis was one of the anonymous sources on which the CNN report depended, and CNN claimed Davis refused to comment in order to hide Davis’ identity as one of their anonymous sources; or (2) Davis is lying now to BuzzFeed when he confessed to having been one of CNN’s sources for the story.
Indeed, as Greenwald writes, either CNN is lying or Davis is lying about his being a source for the story.
But think about it–if Davis really was lying, going around and telling other news outlets that he was a source for the CNN story when he actually was not, then wouldn’t CNN correct the record immediately and state that Davis was not a source? Why has CNN not done this?
CNN’s media reporters, instead of actually reporting on the full scope of the story, disappointingly–but not surprisingly–deliberately leave out big details and cover for their company’s shoddy reporting.
Finally, CNN addresses critics of its reporting by simply labeling many of them part of the “right-wing media universe.”
These right-wingers are “[unleashing] a torrent of criticism on CNN,” the newsletter also reads, setting up a narrative to paint CNN as the victim of an unjustified right-wing smear job, never mind that CNN may have blatantly lied to its readers.
While Darcy is not assembling great newsletters like this, he is informing us that conservative claims of social media censorship are simply “false” and that those who think otherwise have a “paranoia.”
President Trump addressed CNN’s story in a tweet on Wednesday.
“CNN is being torn apart from within based on their being caught in a major lie and refusing to admit the mistake. Sloppy @carlbernstein, a man who lives in the past and thinks like a degenerate fool, making up story after story, is being laughed at all over the country! Fake News,” Trump wrote:
CNN is being torn apart from within based on their being caught in a major lie and refusing to admit the mistake. Sloppy @carlbernstein, a man who lives in the past and thinks like a degenerate fool, making up story after story, is being laughed at all over the country! Fake News
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 29, 2018
CNN’s communications team directly responded to the tweet: “Make no mistake, Mr. President, CNN does not lie. We report the news. And we report when people in power tell lies. CNN stands by our reporting and our reporters. There may be many fools in this story but @carlbernstein is not one of them”:
Make no mistake, Mr. President, CNN does not lie. We report the news. And we report when people in power tell lies. CNN stands by our reporting and our reporters. There may be many fools in this story but @carlbernstein is not one of them.
— CNN Communications (@CNNPR) August 29, 2018
This story is just another embarrassing moment for CNN. Its ratings continue to crater, with the network recently posting a year-over-year drop of 24 percent in primetime ratings.
And this week, CNN analyst Jeffrey Toobin blamed black Americans for Antifa violence, strangely stating, “Let’s be clear also about what’s going on here. The theme here is, ‘I’m Donald Trump and I’ll protect you from the scary black people,'” adding that “Antifa is widely perceived as an African-American organization.”
This is, of course, not true: Antifa groups tend to be largely white.
TPUSA’s Candace Owens responded to Toobin’s remark, labeling it “unbelievably racist”:
This is literally @CNN being HORRIBLY RACIST. Blaming black Americans for crimes that an ALL-WHITE gang commits—why? Because white Democrats are incapable of violence, and only black democrats are?
— Candace Owens (@RealCandaceO) August 29, 2018
And in other CNN-Antifa news, Don Lemon claimed Tuesday night that yes, Antifa is violent, but hey, “no organization’s perfect.”
“Listen, no organization’s perfect. There was some violence,” Lemon said in reference to Antifa. “No one condones violence, but there were different reasons for Antifa and for these neo-Nazis to be there. One, racists, fascists, the other group, fighting racist fascists. There is a distinction there.”