NEW YORK (AP) – CNN says President Donald Trump is wrong to suggest the network is failing.
The president, in a morning tweetstorm related to CNN’s retraction of a story about a Trump associate’s meeting with a Russian financial leader, suggested that the network is looking at management changes. “Ratings way down,” the president tweeted.
But CNN’s public relations team tweeted back at him Tuesday morning that the network just recorded its most-watched second quarter in history.
Said CNN: “Those are the facts.”
Three CNN journalists resigned Monday following the network’s retraction of a story Friday about a supposed investigation into a pre-inaugural meeting between a Trump associate and the head of a Russian investment fund.
President Trump used the resignations to resume his attack on the network’s credibility and tweeted Tuesday morning, “Wow, CNN had to retract big story on `Russia,’ with 3 employees forced to resign. What about all the other phony stories they do? FAKE NEWS!”
He also wrote, “So they caught Fake News CNN cold, but what about NBC, CBS & ABC? What about the failing @nytimes & @washingtonpost? They are all Fake News!”
The story was posted on the network’s website Thursday and was removed Friday night. CNN immediately apologized to Anthony Scaramucci, the Trump transition team member who was reported to be involved in the meeting.
CNN said the story didn’t meet its editorial standards. A network executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to discuss personnel issues, said Monday that story author Thomas Frank resigned. Also losing their jobs are Eric Lichtblau, an assistant managing editor at the organization’s Washington bureau, and Lex Harris, head of the investigations unit.
Meantime, a conservative provocateur posted a video Tuesday of a man identified as a CNN producer commenting on his network’s coverage of President Donald Trump and connections to Russia.
The producer, identified as John Bonifield, said it appeared CNN had no “smoking gun” evidence of wrongdoing by the president and was giving the story extensive coverage because it was good for the ratings. A CNN biography lists Bonifield as a producer for the network’s medical unit, with no indication that he’s involved in political coverage.
The video, posted by James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas, had Bonifield talking with an unidentified person while sitting at a table behind a drink and later in an elevator.
CNN has not commented on the video. O’Keefe and his website have a long history of aiding Republican causes, often with the use of hidden cameras. The law firm of one victim recently sued O’Keefe, alleging violation of a federal wiretap law.
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