In the wake of an embarrassing incident for CNN involving a poorly handled story about a Trump associate’s relationship with the head of a Russian investment fund, a new report suggests that the reason CNN acted quickly to retract the story was that it was facing a possible $100 million libel lawsuit.
“The cable network’s coverage of Trump transition team member Anthony Scaramucci came amid federal scrutiny of corporate parent Time Warner’s pending purchase by AT&T — and the widespread belief among media execs that CNN President Jeff Zucker can’t survive a merger,” The New York Post reports. “CNN immediately caved after Scaramucci, a financier and frequent network guest, cried foul and threatened to take legal action, sources said Tuesday.”
The report cites a source saying that even after Scaramucci received a public apology, he hired a top Manhattan lawyer to keep the heat on CNN and “look after [his] interests in this matter.”
The three journalists who lost their CNN jobs over the incident did not leave voluntarily but were pressured to resign, the story notes, quoting a source saying: “They called them in and said they’d pay out their contracts, but they should leave immediately.”
“Zucker was afraid of facing a high-profile suit from Scaramucci while the U.S. Justice Department weighs the proposed $85.4 billion media merger,” The Post adds. “Meanwhile, a CNN insider said staffers are furious at ‘having lost the moral high ground because of this story.’”