CNN Touts Liberals Slamming Flynn in Letter Citing CNN Distortions

On Tuesday afternoon, CNN Newsroom and The Situation Room both ran reports highlighting liberal groups that went public with a letter attacking National Security Advisor-designate, retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn for having "inflammatory views" and making "Islamophobic remarks," as they called on President-elect Donald Trump not to follow through on appointing him to work in his administration.

The letter notably uses as one of its sources a CNN.com article and includes some of the very distortions perpetrated by CNN that NewsBusters has been hitting the news network over for the past few weeks, as various CNN shows have repeatedly played edited clips from two of Flynn's speeches that omitted references to "radical Islam," making it appear Flynn was attacking all Muslims as a "cancer."

On Tuesday's CNN Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin, substitute host Ana Cabrera failed to identify the "activist organizations" as liberal as she recalled the letter and quoted portions that looked like they could have been lifted from some of CNN's mis-reporting on General Flynn. Cabrera:

A couple of Trump's staff picks are under fire today. Let's start with his National Security Advisor, retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn -- 53 organizations are now calling for Trump to dump Flynn from this position, which does not require Senate confirmation.

Now, the groups are nonprofits, activist organizations. They say in a letter that Flynn, quote, "has written that 'fear of Muslims is rational,' and said that 'Islam is a political ideology' and 'a cancer' that 'hides behind being a religion,' and continuously peddles the nonsensical fear of 'Shariah law' spreading in the United States."

An examination of the letter shows that an article on CNN.com that has already been debunked by NewsBusters was indeed one of the sources cited for some of the misinformation the letter contained.

A few hours later on The Situation Room, setting up the story of the attacks on General Flynn, anchor Wolf Blitzer began:

Trump is facing growing pressure to dump his controversial choice for National Security Advisor at the White House. Our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto, is working that story for us. Jim, mounting opposition to retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn.

Correspondent Jim Sciutto began the piece:

That's right. General Flynn, he had distinguished command roles in both Iraq and Afghanistan, but he's also spread conspiracy theories. He's allegedly mishandled classified information, and he was fired from his last military post, but he will soon serve as President-elect Trump's closest national security advisor. Now, activist groups are pressing Mr. Trump to cut ties.

After a clip of General Flynn appearing with Trump during the presidential campaign, Sciutto brought up complaints of "inflammatory views" by Flynn as the CNN reporter cited the letter from "progressive" groups:

He was tapped to be President-elect Trump's closest advisor on the most sensitive threats facing the nation. And tonight, there is growing criticism that his inflammatory views make him unfit for the job. More than 50 progressive nonprofits -- ranging from religious to social justice organizations -- signed a letter asking Trump to dump Flynn.

The report then played one of the edited clips of General Flynn from one of his speeches that the news network has played before. Flynn: "Islam is a political ideology. It is a political ideology. It definitely hides behind this idea -- this notion of it being a religion."

But, as previously documented by NewsBusters, after CNN began using this clip, the news network has always omitted his references to "radical Islam" moments earlier. Additionally, in other appearances, General Flynn has made it clear that he is arguing that "Islamism" or "radical Islam" -- rather than the entire religion of "Islam" -- is what he considers to be a political ideology that imposes Islam through authoritarian rule.

Returning to Tuesday's report, Sciutto continued:

Citing the former intelligence chief's numerous Islamophobic remarks, including tweeting in February that "Fear of Muslims is rational." Today, Vice President-elect Mike Pence praised Flynn on CNN.

After Sciutto devoted the rest of the report to other criticisms of Flynn, host Blitzer turned to CNN counterterrorism analyst Philip Mudd, who went on a rant against General Flynn and what he viewed as a "clown show" by the Trump transition team. After Blitzer asked if Flynn was the "right guy" for the job, Mudd got emotional as he responded:

Absolutely not. Zero chance. Let me transition, Wolf, from being a CNN commentator to a former CIA official. We have a history of remarkable servants in the Oval Office and in the situation room under Republican presidents -- people you and I know inside baseball -- Brent Scowcroft, Condi Rice, Colin Powell, Steve Hadley. We transition now to a National Security Advisor in a political realm who argues that an opponent on the stump should be locked up in prison, and who argues that a billion plus Muslims should be grouped together.

He added:

And then we go on to argue that that individual's son, who retweets fake news, should be given access to top secrets. You want to tell me that we're going to transition the situation room to reality, and I'm watching a clown show. I've had it with this, Wolf. I want to see a transition from a campaign to reality, and I don't see it yet.

Regarding General Flynn's views of Islam and radical Islam, CNN's Blitzer a few weeks ago conceded that some of Flynn's comments cited by CNN would have been fine if he were specifying "radical Islam" as the problem -- although Blitzer's network omitted references to "radical Islam" when discussing the two speeches in question.

New York Times article also cited by the liberal groups in their letter acknowledges that Flynn has a history of identifying "radical Islam" as the enemy, even as the Times frets about his views. At one point, the article recalls that Flynn believes the "threat" is "radical Islamic terrorism":

General Flynn did not respond to repeated interview requests. Yet in numerous speeches and interviews before the election, and in a book published in August, he laid out a view of the world that sees the United States as facing a singular, overarching threat that can be described in only one way: "radical Islamic terrorism."

A bit later, the article recounts Flynn's desire to identify the "real enemy" as "radical Islam":

General Flynn was fired after serving only two years as chief the Defense Intelligence Agency. He then re-emerged as a vociferous critic of a Washington elite that he contended could not even properly identify the real enemy -- radical Islam, that is -- never mind figure out how to defeat it.

Relevant transcripts from Tuesday's CNN reports follow:

#From CNN Newsroom:

2:04 p.m. ET

ANA CABRERA: A couple of Trump's staff picks are under fire today. Let's start with his National Security Advisor, retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn -- 53 organizations are now calling for Trump to dump Flynn from this position, which does not require Senate confirmation. Now, the groups are nonprofits, activist organizations. They say in a letter that Flynn, quote, "has written that 'fear of Muslims is rational,' and said that 'Islam is a political ideology' and 'a cancer' that 'hides behind being a religion,' and continuously peddles the nonsensical fear of 'Shariah law' spreading in the United States."

Let me bring in CNN political director David Chalian, joining us now. David, these groups also say Flynn is a threat to national security. Now, help us remember, he was elected or at least selected, I should say, a couple of weeks ago. Why are we seeing this new bombardment, do you think?

#From CNN's The Situation Room:

6:44 p.m. ET

WOLF BLITZER: Trump is facing growing pressure to dump his controversial choice for National Security Advisor at the White House. Our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto, is working that story for us. Jim, mounting opposition to retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn.

JIM SCIUTTO: That's right. General Flynn, he had distinguished command roles in both Iraq and Afghanistan, but he's also spread conspiracy theories. He's allegedly mishandled classified information, and he was fired from his last military post, but he will soon serve as President-elect Trump's closest national security advisor. Now, activist groups are pressing Mr. Trump to cut ties.

RETIRED GENERAL MICHAEL FLYNN, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR-DESIGNATE: -Donald J. Trump to be the next President of the United States.

SCIUTTO: He tapped to be President-elect Trump's closest advisor on the most sensitive threats facing the nation. And tonight, there is growing criticism that his inflammatory views make him unfit for the job. More than 50 progressive nonprofits -- ranging from religious to social justice organizations -- signed a letter asking Trump to dump Flynn.

FLYNN: Islam is a political ideology. It is a political ideology. It definitely hides behind this idea -- this notion of it being a religion.

SCIUTTO: Citing the former intelligence chief's numerous Islamophobic remarks, including tweeting in February that "Fear of Muslims is rational." Today, Vice President-elect Mike Pence praised Flynn on CNN.

VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT MIKE PENCE: We are so grateful and honored to have General Flynn as our nominee for National Security Advisor brings an extraordinary wealth of experience.

SCIUTTO: But the groups also raised more substantive allegations. On one occasion, while overseeing intelligence in Afghanistan, former government officials tell CNN that Flynn shared classified information from another agency with Pakistan. Flynn told CNN the allegation, quote, "is not true, not even close," but the incident led to an informal reprimand, though no charges, officials tell CNN. And even as Flynn received classified intelligence briefings during the campaign, he was lobbying on behalf of foreign clients -- among them, Turkey, who Flynn has uncritically backed as it has cracked down on domestic descent. Trump's transition team told CNN last month that Flynn's dealing with Turkey were within his rights as a private citizen, and that Flynn would sever ties consulting firm when he is part of the administration

FLYNN: I've had people in the media, mainstream media, that have said, "Oh, that's all a conspiracy, it's a lie."

SCIUTTO: In his public statements, Flynn as repeatedly dabbled in conspiracy theories. Just one week before the election, he tweeted, quote, "U decide - NYPD blows whistle on New Hillary Emails: Money Laundering, Sex Crimes w Children, etc. MUST READ!" end quote. Allegations that remain entirely unsubstantiated. Flynn's son -- Michael Flynn Jr., who served as his aide -- has been a leading proponent of a bizarre fake news story alleging that a D.C. pizzeria was home to a child sex ring visited by Clinton campaign staff.

The story led an armed man to enter the restaurant this weekend, he claimed to investigate the allegations. He was arrested only after firing several shots. And yet, on Sunday, Flynn Jr. was still defending the conspiracy theory, tweeting, quote, "Until #Pizzagate proven to be false, it'll remain a story. The left seems to forget #PodestaEmails and the many 'coincidences' tied to it."Today, Flynn Jr. was dismissed from the transition. The decision, sources tell CNN, coming directly from the President-elect.

Now, regarding his farther, I've spoken to Democratic and GOP lawmakers who see General James Mattis's selection as Defense secretary nominee as somewhat balancing Flynn. Mattis enormously respected by both parties, and many I've spoken to note he outranked Flynn four stars to three when they were in uniform, and that has relevance going forward, they say.

BLITZER: Yep, okay, Jim Sciutto, good report. thanks very much. Let's bring back our panel. Phil Mudd, you're a former CIA counterterrorism official. You think Mike Flynn is the right guy to be the President's National Security Advisor in the White House?

PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANAYST: Absolutely not. Zero chance. Let me transition, Wolf, from being a CNN commentator to a former CIA official. We have a history of remarkable servants in the Oval Office and in the situation room under Republican presidents -- people you and I know inside baseball -- Brent Scowcroft, Condi Rice, Colin Powell, Steve Hadley.

We transition now to a National Security Advisor in a political realm who argues that an opponent on the stump should be locked up in prison, and who argues that a billion plus Muslims should be grouped together. And then we go on to argue that that individual's son, who retweets fake news, should be given access to top secrets. You want to tell me that we're going to transition the situation room to reality, and I'm watching a clown show. I've had it with this, Wolf. I want to see a transition from a campaign to reality, and I don't see it yet.

NB Daily Appointments Middle East Military War on Terrorism Conservatives & Republicans Religion Islam CNN The Situation Room CNN Newsroom Video Mike Flynn Wolf Blitzer Jim Sciutto Donald Trump


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