CNN is talking about what went wrong with a story that ended up costing three journalists their jobs with the news network. In the wake of the retracted story about an alleged connection between a Trump associate and the head of a Russian investment fund, Thomas Frank, who wrote the story; Eric Lichtblau, an editor in the investigative unit responsible for the story; and Lex Haris, who led the unit, all quit their CNN jobs.
In a piece published Monday night, CNN’s Brian Stelter reports: “An internal investigation by CNN management found that some standard editorial processes were not followed when the article was published, people briefed on the results of the investigation said.”
The retracted story cited a single anonymous source, reporting that Congress was investigating a “Russian investment fund with ties to Trump officials.”
“These types of stories are typically reviewed by several departments within CNN — including fact-checkers, journalism standards experts and lawyers — before publication,” Stelter writes. “This breakdown in editorial workflow disturbed the CNN executives who learned about it.”
Stelter’s report adds: “In a staff meeting Monday afternoon, investigative unit members were told that the retraction did not mean the facts of the story were necessarily wrong. Rather, it meant that ‘the story wasn’t solid enough to publish as-is,’ one of the people briefed on the investigation said.”
The story appeared on CNN’s website, but did not run on any of the network’s TV channels. As we reported previously, it was deleted from the site Friday night and replaced with a note saying the story “did not meet CNN’s editorial standards and has been retracted.”