CNN found itself embroiled in controversy this summer after its investigative team made multiple reporting errors, including one major incident that led to the resignation of three staffers.
The New York Times described the fallout in a recent report.
In early June, just before former FBI Director James Comey was scheduled to testify before Congress, CNN’s investigative team reported that Comey would contradict Trump’s claim that Comey never told the president he was under investigation. However, the information was false and CNN was forced to issue a correction.
Weeks later, the team made a series of editorial blunders leading to a major retraction.
The investigative team published a story connecting Anthony Scaramucci — then just a former member of the Trump transition team — to a Russian investment bank. The story hinged on a single source and lacked clarity, and its reporter wasn’t upfront with the trepidations the source had over the story’s angle. Editors also failed to answer at least one important question from CNN’s legal team. It’s not clear what that question was.
What is clear, however, is the story was likely false and Scaramucci’s team was “all hands on deck” in pushing back. That led to a meeting of CNN executives, including CEO Jeff Zucker.
After realizing the editorial mishaps, network executives decided to issue a full retraction, apologized to Scaramucci publicly, and demanded resignations of three staffers who oversaw the story.
But the fallout didn’t end there.
At a time when the Trump-Russia story was dominating airwaves nearly all day, CNN pulled its investigative team from the story for good. They handed the reins to CNN’s Washington bureau.
"That story did not meet CNN’s editorial standards,” the company wrote said in a short statement.
War with Trump
Not only did the faulty story hurt CNN’s investigative unit’s reputation, but it hurt the network’s credibility even more — and it couldn’t have come at a worse time.
At the time, Trump was launching daily Twitter insults at CNN or harassing a CNN reporter in a news conference. The news outlet was clearly Trump’s most disliked, so he made sure to make a scene about the “fake news” story.
Wow, CNN had to retract big story on "Russia," with 3 employees forced to resign. What about all the other phony stories they do? FAKE NEWS!— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1498559622.0
In the war between Trump and the mainstream media, consider CNN's blunder a major victory for the president.
CNN's ratings also took a nosedive at the time, with most network primetime shows struggling to eclipse one million viewers. However, the ratings have begun to recover some, and so has the network's investigative unit.
Still, though, the team is unable to touch the Russia story and, for the most part, Trump and the White House.