By Saturday, Donald Trump Jr.’s Twitter feed was filled with tweets and retweets slamming CNN over its bombshell-turned-dud story involving WikiLeaks documents and the president’s eldest son.
Trump Jr., who, like his father, is vocally partisan and highly critical of the mainstream media on Twitter, claimed — without evidence — that CNN reporters Manu Raju and Jeremy Herb “got played” by their “puppet masters.” He also tweeted that CNN’s “democratic sources” are trying to push a false narrative.
“I won’t hold my breath for an apology, or for you to call out your puppet masters on the left that fed you BS knowing you would gleefully run with it without ever checking the other side,” Trump Jr. said in a Saturday morning tweet that addressed Raju, CNN’s senior congressional correspondent. “Apparently it was just too good a scoop for you to actually do your job. You got played.”
CNN incorrectly reported Friday that President Trump’s campaign, including the candidate himself, his eldest son and top aides, received access to hacked Democratic National Committee emails on Sept. 4, 2016, more than a week before the group WikiLeaks made the files public. The implication was clear: The Trump campaign knew about the hacked emails before everybody else did.
The report, which relied on multiple sources who described the emails to the reporters, was the lead story on CNN’s homepage Friday morning and was discussed on air. CBS later published a similar story.
But the story began to fall apart Friday afternoon, when The Washington Post obtained a copy of the email, which CNN did not have. The email was actually sent to the Trump campaign on Sept. 14, 2016 — after WikiLeaks had already made the documents public. The later date suggests that the campaign may have simply been alerted of information that was already widely available. As CNN acknowledged in its correction, it “indicates that the communication is less significant” than the network initially reported. CBS also corrected its story.
The error, which comes on the heels of an arguably bigger blunder from ABC News investigative journalist Brian Ross, gave the president and his surrogates fresh ammunition to, again, condemn the mainstream media, specifically CNN, as “fake news.”
Trump assailed CNN as he held a rally Friday night for embattled Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore and followed up with tweets Saturday morning in which he mocked CNN’s slogan. He concluded that the mistake was “vicious and purposeful,” while also questioning if it was merely the result of “gross incompetence.”
Brian Stelter, CNN’s senior media correspondent and host of “Reliable Sources,” reported that Raju and Herb will not face disciplinary action because they “followed CNN’s editorial standards process, which requires review and approval of the use of anonymous sources.” Stelter said that CNN believes the sources were mistaken and did not intend to deceive the reporters.
Still, Trump Jr. and many others have claimed otherwise. Some said that CNN should out the two sources who misinformed its reporters to further protect its credibility, and the network should review all of its previous stories based on tips from these sources.
Trump Jr. went a step further, claiming that CNN’s “democratic sources” deliberately manipulated facts and fed false information that the network’s reporters were happy to take.
Others, however, have come to CNN’s defense, saying the story was an honest mistake from otherwise reliable reporters.