CNN failed to correct, retract, or apologize for its repeated false reports in recent weeks that President Donald Trump had referred to neo-Nazis as “very fine people” in his remarks about the Charlottesville, Virginia, riot in 2017.
But on Tuesday, CNN linked to its own report at the time that reported, accurately, that Trump had used “very fine people” to refer to protesters for and against the removal of a historic statue, not to neo-Nazis.
The context was a CNN report Tuesday about a new book about the Trump administration that claims Ivanka Trump stood up for her father against then-economic adviser Gary Cohn over the Charlottesville conference. According to the New York Times, the new book, Kushner Inc., by journalist Vicky Ward, claims that Ivanka Trump told Cohn: “My dad’s not a racist.” (The White House has “dismissed the book,” the Times notes.)
CNN covered the Times report, and referred to the book’s claims throughout the day on Tuesday. Notably, in CNN’s article about the book, the network linked to its own coverage of the Charlottesville conference. The article, “Trump says both sides to blame amid Charlottesville backlash,” written by Dan Merica and published on August 16, 2017, leaves no doubt about what Trump meant when he used the phrase “very fine people”:
Trump said there were some “very bad people” on both sides, but that there was some who came out to protest the removal of Robert E. Lee’s statue who were “fine people.”
“You had people in that group that were there to protest the taking down, to them, of a very, very important statue and a renaming of a park from Robert E. Lee to another name,” Trump said.
Pressed by reporters, Trump raised Washington and Jefferson, arguing there could be a slippery slope.
CNN’s own contemporaneous reporting contradicts what many of its main news anchors, contributors, and reporters — including Chris Cuomo, Anderson Cooper, Jim Acosta, April Ryan, and others — have claimed recently: namely, that Trump suggested “there are very fine people in the Nazis,” in Acosta’s words.
CNN has even edited video of Trump’s press conference deceptively to present a claim that its own coverage disproves.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.