CNN Is Screwed: Network Botches Date, Significance of Trump Jr./WikiLeaks E-Mail [UPDATED]

UPDATE, 4:42 p.m. Eastern: For those asking, CNN has already announced that Raju (and presumably his co-author Jeremy Herb) would not be facing any disciplinary action because their false story met CNN’s editorial standards and instead were burned by their sources. Yes. You read that correctly. No changes. No punishment.

Reliable Sources host Brian Stelter broke the news:

Needless to say, this space has a hunch that this situation is far from over.

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UPDATE, 4:15 p.m. Eastern: CNN finally admitted to its egregious error almost three hours after The Washington Post first blew the doors off the accuracy of the initial CNN.com story by issuing both an online correction and a two-minute-plus explanation from Raju on CNN Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin.

Raju emerged at the 3:49 p.m. Eastern mark, informing views that the network is “correcting a story that we have been reporting throughout the day today about an email that was sent to the Trump campaign, to then-candidate Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and others during the heat of the campaign.”

 

 

He explained that his story had originally stated “that this email came on September 4th, that was before some of these documents were publicly available, but we have just received — obtained a copy of this e-mail and, instead, we’ve now learned that this — this e-mail was on September 14th.”

“So that is ten days later than what we originally reported earlier today and this is — appears to change the understanding of this story because, initially, it seemed perhaps they were being offered access to documents that were not yet publicly available, but in this e-mail from an individual named Michael Erickson,” Raju added.

The solemn congressional correspondent revealed that he initially had “two sources who had seen this e-mail but that information was incorrect now, based on a copy of the e-mail that we have obtained this afternoon.”

Raju concluded, in part, by stating:

[I]t just shows that perhaps the initial understanding of what this e-mail was perhaps is not as significant as what we know now based on this e-mail. We do know that Donald Trump Jr., when he testified before the House Intelligence Committee, was asked about this e-mail. He said he had no knowledge of it...That's a statement they continue to say today, but this e-mail came out September 14th, not September 4th as we said earlier[.]

Admittedly, this error didn’t exactly fit the definition of fake news and, if you peruse the NewsBusters archives, you won't find a plethora of stories about Raju's reporting. Nonetheless, it was a serious error and a setback for the important issue of media literacy.

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With the publication of a Friday afternoon story on The Washington Post’s website, CNN was dealt another embarrassing blow to its credibility thanks to a significant error in a major story about a September 2016 e-mail to then-candidate Trump, Donald Trump Jr., and others in their orbit about a WikiLeaks document dump. 

CNN.com published an early-morning story by Manu Raju and Jeremy Herb that claimed the Trump team received an e-mail on September 4 with “a decryption key and website address for hacked WikiLeaks documents” that, in turn, was presumably unavailable to the rest of the viewing public. 

Thanks to the reporting of The Daily Caller, The Post, and The Wall Street Journal, the e-mail actually went out on September 14, which meant, according to The Journal’s Rebecca Ballhaus, contained “publicly available info, was riddled with typos and came from a Trump backer who had given $40 to the campaign months earlier.”

The Daily Caller’s Chuck Ross noted that the date change “is significant because WikiLeaks had released a batch of stolen documents on Sept. 13.”

All morning and into the afternoon, CNN proudly touted a “Breaking News” banner with a “CNN Exclusive” that read the following: “Emails Reveal Effort to Give Trump Campaign WikiLeaks Documents.”

Here’s more from the original CNN story, which sought to continue the liberal media’s case that there’s ample proof of collusion by the Trump campaign to steal the election from Hillary Clinton:

The September 4 email was sent during the final stretch of the 2016 presidential race -- on the same day that Trump Jr. first tweeted about WikiLeaks and Clinton.

(....)

The email came two months after the hacked emails of the Democratic National Committee were made public and one month before WikiLeaks began leaking the contents of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta's hacked emails. It arrived less than three weeks before WikiLeaks itself messaged Trump Jr. and began an exchange of direct messages on Twitter.

Trump Jr. told investigators he had no recollection of the September email.

Congressional investigators are trying to ascertain whether the individual who sent the September email is legitimate and whether it shows additional efforts by WikiLeaks to connect with Trump's son and others on the Trump campaign. The email also indicated that the Trump campaign could access records from former Secretary of State Colin Powell, whose hacked emails were made public by a Russian front group 10 days later.

(....)

The use of a website and decryption key as a means to provide information aligns with past WikiLeaks practices. The idea is that WikiLeaks posts a data file on the Internet, but it is encrypted and impossible to open without the key.

As of this blog’s publication, CNN had yet to update the story. Not surprisingly, CNN treated this story like a missing Malaysian plane until it vanished from its on-air coverage following a segment that ended just before the 1:11 p.m. Eastern mark. 

Ross and Washington Examiner White House correspondent Sarah Westwood put the story in perspective in terms of its damage:

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Here’s the lede graphs of The Post story, which puts another stake in the heart of CNN’s self-righteous “Facts First” crusade

A 2016 email sent to President Trump and top aides pointed the campaign to hacked documents from the Democratic National Committee that had already been made public by the group WikiLeaks a day earlier.

The email — sent the afternoon of Sept. 14, 2016 — noted that “Wikileaks has uploaded another (huge 678 mb) archive of files from the DNC” and included a link and a “decryption key,” according to a copy obtained by The Washington Post.

The writer, who said his name was Michael J. Erickson and described himself as the president of an aviation management company, sent the message to the then-Republican nominee as well as his eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., and other top advisers.

The day before, WikiLeaks had tweeted links to what the group said was 678.4 megabytes of DNC documents.

The full email — which was first described to CNN as being sent on Sept. 4, 10 days earlier — indicates that the writer may have simply been flagging information that was already widely available.

The message also noted that information from former secretary of state Colin Powell’s inbox was available “on DCLeaks.com.” That development, too, had been publicly reported earlier that day.

For those that may or may not recall, this was not the first time a CNN.com story turned out to be wildly inaccurate. The outlet took it on the chin in June when a number of investigative reporters were ushered out when it published a false story about Anthony Scaramucci having connections to Russia.

Amidst the silence, CNN found plenty of time to condemn Fox News for their coverage of the Mueller probe and “conservative media” slamming former President Obama for comparing America under President Trump to Nazi Germany. 

How rich that CNN lectures Fox News for their motives as state-run media while being wild and loose with facts to fit their narrative. They must have found some inspiration from ABC’s Brian Ross.

Here’s an exit question: Since CNN has insinuated that things coming from Fox News and the Trump administration is a banana, where does that leave the statements coming from the mouths of CNN’s journalists?

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Here’s the relevant transcript from December 8's CNN Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin:

CNN Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin
December 8, 2017
3:49 p.m. Eastern

BROOKE BALDWIN: Let's go live to now to CNN’s Manu Raju on Capitol Hill with a development. Manu, what do you have? 

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Email Pointed Trump Campaign to WikiLeaks Documents; Email Was Sent on Sept 14, 2016, Not Sept 14, 2016]

MANU RAJU: That’s right. We’re actually correcting a story that we have been reporting throughout the day today about an email that was sent to the Trump campaign, to then-candidate Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and others during the heat of the campaign. This email included a decryption key and a link to where they could access some of these hacked Wikileaks documents from the Democrat National Committee. Now, we’ve been reporting that this email came on September 4th, that was before some of these documents were publicly available, but we have just received — obtained a copy of this e-mail and, instead, we’ve now learned that this — this e-mail was on September 14th. So that is ten days later than what we originally reported earlier today and this is — appears to change the understanding of this story because, initially, it seemed perhaps they were being offered access to documents that were not yet publicly available, but in this e-mail from an individual named Michael Erickson. They do direct the Trump campaign to some publicly available documents, hacked documents from Wikileaks as well as from the former Secretary of State Colin Powell, saying that those documents are, indeed, available. Now our initial reporting on that September 4th date was based on two sources who had seen this e-mail but that information was incorrect now, based on a copy of the e-mail that we have obtained this afternoon. So — so, Brooke, it just shows that perhaps the initial understanding of what this e-mail was perhaps is not as significant as what we know now based on this e-mail. We do know that Donald Trump Jr., when he testified before the House Intelligence Committee, was asked about this e-mail. He said he had no knowledge of it, which we reported earlier as well and his attorney said he did not act on the offer to obtain these hacked e-mails. That's a statement they continue to say today, but this e-mail came out September 14th, not September 4th as we said earlier, Brooke. 

BALDWIN: Okay. Manu Raju, thank you.


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