December 3, 2020

CNN Fake News: The Network’s Efforts to Justify Its Actions May Be Worse than Its Actual Flawed Reporting

CNN’s defense of its handling of the Buzzfeed memo on Donald Trump is worse than its flawed reporting. (Flickr) 

According to NBC, an outfit far from being friendly to Donald Trump, “top intelligence officials” consider the memo released by Buzzfeed and reported by CNN “part of a smear campaign” prepared by Donald Trump’s opponents during last year’s presidential election season. Moreover, these intelligence officials told NBC News that the contents of that memo were “dismissed out of hand” and “considered deceitful” by the intelligence community.

NBC also pointed out during its main news broadcast last night that the leaked memo was not mentioned by any official during last week’s intelligence briefing with Mr. Trump, and that it was included in the printed material left with the President Elect as part of an annex, and “as an example of Russian misinformation.”

NBC made all this public yesterday during its main broadcast at 6:30PM Eastern Time. By that time one can safely assume that CNN possessed the same information, and yet last night, during Anderson Cooper’s pugnacious interview with Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway, the network’s star anchor defended his colleagues’ flawed reporting by insisting, very aggressively, that the memo was indeed delivered by the intelligence officials to the President Elect.


Instead of apologizing and admitting to contributing to spread false information and innuendo as actual news, CNN’s reporters are arguing that the memo existed, and thus, its mere existence, regardless of the content, proves its reporting was not at fault. This line of defense is even worse ethically that the network’s actual flawed journalism.

CNN knows that the content of the memo in question is false. They know that the text was prepared as part of a smear campaign against Donald Trump, and they now know that the intelligence community, behind which they have been justifying their actions up to now, considers the contents of the memo “deceitful.” And yet in their defense they keep going back to the fact the memo was actually included in the intelligence report to the President Elect.

With this line of argument, CNN is not only purposefully trying to legitimize a text that they know to be false, or at least they know the intelligence community considers false, but is purposely obfuscating to the point of lying.

By now it is evident to anyone with a thread of experience in journalism that CNN was either played by its sources or it was a wilful participant in a carefully orchestrated plan to use the two-page report to damage Donald Trump’s presidency.

Giving CNN the benefit of the doubt, we choose to believe the first option: CNN was played by its source. Whoever leaked the memo knew it to contain false information. However, he or she also knew that the memo’s inclusion in the file presented to the President Elect would serve to legitimize the report in the eyes of the press.

Giving CNN the benefit of the doubt, and assuming they are not part of a smear campaign against the President Elect, their source, most probably someone in the intelligence community or in the highest levels of the Obama White House, informed its CNN contact that the memo was included in the briefing, with no mention of the fact that its inclusion was a sample for Russian techniques for spreading false information.

It is an incontestable fact that CNN allowed itself to serve as a conduit for fake news. The network and its reporters should apologize for its error, clearly caused by the all too evident animosity of its staff towards Donald Trump. In their delight at being handed what they considered a smoking gun, they threw all caution to the wind and proceeded to commit journalistic suicide. Their defense now of their indefensible acts makes matter worse. They stand to lose all credibility.