President Trump slammed CNN on Wednesday as the network continues to stand by a bombshell report on an infamous 2016 Trump Tower meeting after an anonymous source revealed his identity and recanted the details he provided for the story.
Trump tweeted that “many anonymous sources don’t even exist” before attacking CNN directly.
“They are fiction made up by the Fake News reporters. Look at the lie that Fake CNN is now in,” Trump tweeted. “They got caught red handed! Enemy of the People!”
The president sent a follow-up tweet: “When you see ‘anonymous source,’ stop reading the story, it is fiction!”
Lanny Davis, the high-powered attorney of President Trump’s longtime “fixer”-turned-foe Michael Cohen, admitted Monday he was an anonymous source — after The Washington Post outed him as a source for its own version of the story.
The attorney told BuzzFeed News that he regretted being the anonymous source, as well as his subsequent denial. The CNN story, which cited multiple “sources,” claimed Cohen said President Trump knew in advance about the Trump Tower sit-down. However, Trump has repeatedly denied any advance knowledge of the meeting.
On Tuesday afternoon, CNN.com published a new report that acknowledged the changing stories of Lanny Davis, the high-powered attorney of President Trump’s longtime “fixer”-turned-foe Michael Cohen -- but critics pointed out the network failed to address key issues with its original report.
Davis spent recent days walking back his bombshell assertions that his client could tell Special Counsel Robert Mueller that Trump had prior knowledge of the meeting with a Russian lawyer discussing potentially damaging information on Hillary Clinton. However, CNN has stood by its reporting. Its media newsletter noted that BuzzFeed’s report “doesn't mean, however, that CNN's story is incorrect.”
CNN's new story carried the headline: “Attorney for Michael Cohen keeps changing his story on Trump Tower meeting.” It included a quote from Davis, “I should have done a much better job of speaking with more suspicion than certainty, and I regret my mistake.”
In addition to other criticisms, CNN’s follow-up fails to explain why the original report claimed Davis declined comment when he was actually used as a source.
CNN has essentially implemented an anti-Trump programming strategy, but industry watchdogs have expressed disbelief that the network continues to stand by the Trump Tower story.
Media analyst Jeffrey McCall told Fox News that the situation “demonstrates exactly why so many news consumers give the media low credibility scores” in this era.
“CNN went out on a limb in the first place by using Lanny Davis as a source and the story eventually collapsed. It was risky to use such a self-interested source such as Davis in that story initially, but once the story's substance started to crumble, CNN owed the news-consuming community an explanation and perhaps even an apology,” McCall said.
McCall said the “journalistic world must be more cautious about using unnamed sources” and they “particularly can't be using unnamed sources who have a reason to be playing the reporters.”
He continued: “And when stories fall apart, news organizations need to be big enough to acknowledge human errors. CNN's refusal to sort this story out in front of the public lends support to the right-leaning critics who suggest CNN is more about pushing an anti-Trump agenda than getting stories to be factually correct.”