by Elad Hakim
CNN printed a story allegedly based on a source who subsequently recanted his statements.
Recently, “[m]ore than 300 newspapers published editorials on the dangers ofPresident Trump and his administration’s verbal assault on the press.” Many of these media outlets took exception to the fact that the president referred to them as “fake news” and “the enemy of the people,” and accused the president of engaging in a propaganda war against legitimate news sites. “This dirty war on the free press must end,” Marjorie Pritchard, the Boston Globe's editorial page deputy managing editor said in a statement obtained by ABC News. “It calls for urgent action by those committed to free speech and the free press to stand against a White House and its allies who are bent on eroding a pillar of an informed democracy.”
In a sense, the various media outlets that participated in the “editorial blitz” against President Trump were well within their right to do so as long as they did not violate any laws. After all, the media serves a vital purpose in our free society and the work that journalists do should be respected on most occasions. However, when a media outlet makes a mistake, publishes a story that is based on questionable sources, or discovers that a story is not true, it should redact or correct the story so as to remain credible.
Several weeks ago, CNN published an anonymously sourced report stating that President Trump allegedly knew about the “Trump Tower meeting” ahead of time. Subsequently, Michael Cohen’s lawyer, Lanny Davis, admitted that he was the source of this information and indicated that he was wrong to imply that he could prove such a thing. According to Davis: "I regret not being much clearer in saying I'm not sure about this story… It's a major mistake for which I am 100 percent sorry. Period. I never should have done it unless I was certain and could prove it."
Despite this obvious bombshell, CNN continues to stand by its reporting, leading some to question the network’s credibility. For example, Tucker Carlson recently interviewed Glenn Greenwald, founder of The Intercept. According to Greenwald: "They can’t retract the story and they can’t admit they lied… So they are continuing to stick to what everybody knows is a lie, but not many people care because people think -- a lot of people, anyway -- that it was done for the right political agenda."
Carlson also asked Greenwald whether CNN had an obligation to its viewers to explain what is going on relative to this story. "Journalists rightly demand transparency from powerful institutions, that’s our job," Greenwald replied. "But how can CNN have any credibility to do that when you call them and ask them what happened here, as I did, and everyone else did, and they say, ‘Talk to our PR spokesperson,’ who then refuses to answer any questions. They have zero credibility if they don’t provide transparency themselves."
Despite Mr. Davis’ retractions, CNN continues to stand by its story and to assert that “CNN does not lie.” While the network published a new report acknowledging Mr. Davis’ change of heart,” the new report did not explain why the original report asserted that Mr. Davis declined comment when he was actually used as a source. Donald Trump, Jr. took issue with this and issued a blistering statement: “CNN you just lied again by saying you don’t lie. You said Lanny Davis declined to comment when he was in fact a source.” “Are you kidding me with this BS. Do you have any journalistic credibility at all? I mean seriously??? You’re a joke!!!”
Credibility is a very interesting, yet delicate, phenomenon. It is very difficult to earn/establish, yet very easy to lose. In this case, CNN brought this firestorm on itself and cannot blame the president, Republicans, or forces of nature. Moreover, given this recent controversy, the network cannot question why President Trump uses terms like “fake news” when describing some in the media.
What is even more unfortunate for CNN is that, once your credibility is questioned, much of what you say is also looked at with skepticism. For example, CNN recently suspended political analyst Paris Dennard after Mr. Dennard voiced his support of the president’s decision to revoke John Brennan’s security clearance. CNN attributed the suspension to allegations in a Washington Postarticle stating that Dennard was fired from a job at Arizona State University “for making sexually explicit comments and gestures towards women.” However, the timing of the suspension raised some eyebrows given that it occurred shortly after Mr. Dennard made his comments supporting the president’s decision. Said Denard, “"This is sadly another politically motivated attempt to besmirch my character, and shame me into silence for my support of President Trump and the GOP." Is it possible that Dennard was suspended because of his political stance?
The media serves a vital role. With this role comes responsibility. CNN printed a story allegedly based on a source who subsequently recanted his statements. At that time, the network should have simply recanted the story. By failing to do so, it put its credibility in serious jeopardy, and substantiated some of President Trump’s comments and concerns
Elad Hakims articles have been published in The Daily Caller, The Federalist, The Western Journal, American Thinker, World Net Daily, and other online publications.
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