President Trump resumed beating his “fake news!” drum Tuesday, going off on CNN after the network retracted a story about alleged ties between Trump's allies and Russia. Three CNN journalists who had been involved in the story resigned after the retraction.
Trump, whose presidency has been hindered by persistent allegations of his campaign's inappropriate ties to the Russian government, lashed out at CNN in a series of tweets early Tuesday morning, insinuating that there were other stories that merited retracting.
“What about all the other phony stories they do? FAKE NEWS!” he wrote.
About two hours later, Trump continued, tweeting without evidence that CNN was “looking at big management changes” in the wake of the retraction and that its ratings were “way down!”
A CNN Twitter account disputed the latter in a reply to the president.
A representative for the network did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday morning.
Trump also called out several other television networks — except for Fox News — as well as the New York Times and The Washington Post, and wondered when they, too, would be “caught.”
“They are all Fake News!” the president charged.
Trump has long had a contentious relationship with the media. Throughout his campaign, he regularly lashed out at the press, singling out news outlets as being “dishonest” and at one point barring The Washington Post from covering his events. Since his election, he has accused, without providing evidence or deeper arguments, certain media outlets of publishing “fake news.” Earlier this year, Trump dubbed the media “the enemy of the American People!” and broke with recent presidential tradition in skipping the White House correspondents' dinner. Instead, he held a Pennsylvania rally that same day — where he railed against the media.
The Post's Fact Checker recently compiled a timeline of every Russia story Trump alleged was a hoax by Democrats and found that, many times, Trump contradicted his own past statements or statements from members of his administration.
CNN has been a frequent target in Trump's tweets, which have described the network as everything from “unwatchable” to “the worst.”
The CNN story in question was removed from CNN.com last week and replaced with an editor's note that explained: “On June 22, 2017, CNN.com published a story connecting Anthony Scaramucci with investigations into the Russian Direct Investment Fund. That story did not meet CNN's editorial standards and has been retracted. Links to the story have been disabled. CNN apologizes to Mr. Scaramucci.”
Over the weekend, Scaramucci tweeted that he accepted CNN's apology and would be moving on.
Despite that, the network accepted the resignations Monday of reporter Thomas Frank and “CNN Investigates” editors Eric Lichtblau and Lex Haris. The story — which cited a single anonymous source and stated a “Russian investment fund with ties to Trump officials” was under investigation by Congress — did not follow some standard editorial processes during its preparation, according to CNN's Brian Stelter:
These types of stories are typically reviewed by several departments within CNN — including fact-checkers, journalism standards experts and lawyers — before publication.
This breakdown in editorial workflow disturbed the CNN executives who learned about it.
In a staff meeting Monday afternoon, investigative unit members were told that the retraction did not mean the facts of the story were necessarily wrong. Rather, it meant that “the story wasn't solid enough to publish as-is,” one of the people briefed on the investigation said.