Trump: ‘CNN made a vicious and purposeful mistake’


During a rally in Pensacola, Fla., on Dec. 8, President Trump told Alabamians to “get out and vote for Roy Moore,” the Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Alabama. (Bastien Inzaurralde/The Washington Post)

President Trump, armed with fresh ammunition against the mainstream media, fired off “fake news” attacks on Twitter after CNN incorrectly reported that his campaign received access to hacked emails well before the group WikiLeaks made the files public.

Trump called the mistake “vicious and purposeful” and said CNN’s slogan should be “THE LEAST TRUSTED NAME IN NEWS!” in a series of tweets Saturday morning.

“Watch to see if @CNN fires those responsible, or was it just gross incompetence?” Trump said.

In an exclusive report Friday, CNN senior congressional correspondent Manu Raju and politics reporter Jeremy Herb reported that the Trump campaign, including Donald Trump Jr., the president’s eldest son, and top aides, received an email on Sept. 4, 2016, that gave them early access to documents hacked from the Democratic National Committee. The implication was clear: The Trump campaign knew about the hacked emails more than a week before WikiLeaks made them public.

The report, which relied on multiple sources who described the emails to the reporters, was the lead story on CNN’s homepage Friday morning and was discussed on air. CBS later published a similar story.

But by Friday afternoon, The Washington Post had obtained a copy of the email, which was actually sent to the Trump campaign on Sept. 14, 2016 — after WikiLeaks had already made the documents public. The email said that “WikiLeaks has uploaded another (huge 678 mb) archive files from the DNC” and included a link and a “decryption key,” The Post’s Rosalind S. Helderman and Tom Hamburger reported. The message also noted that information from former secretary of state Collin Powell’s inbox was available “on”

The later date suggests that the campaign may have simply been alerted of information that was already public. As CNN acknowledged in its correction, it “indicates that the communication is less significant” than the network initially reported. CBS also corrected its story.

Trump attacked CNN Friday night, when he was holding a rally on behalf of embattled Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore in Pensacola, Fla.

“CNN apologized just a little while ago. They apologized. Oh, thank you, CNN. Thank you so much. You should’ve been apologizing for the last two years,” Trump told supporters.

The controversial error was not CNN’s first. Three journalists resigned last summer after the network retracted a story connecting Anthony Scaramucci with investigations into the Russian Direct Investment Fund.

The mistake also comes just a week after ABC News committed an arguably bigger blunder. Investigative journalist Brian Ross erroneously reported that former national security adviser Michael Flynn was prepared to testify that Trump, as a candidate, “directed him to make contact with the Russians.” The explosive report, which relied on one anonymous source, was followed by a dramatic plunge in the stock market.

CNN’s recent error prompted fresh attacks not only from the president, but also from Trump Jr. and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

“So who’s going to be fired?” Assange tweeted Friday.

In his tweets Saturday, Trump said CNN was “caught red handed, just like lonely Brian Ross at ABC News (who should be immediately fired for his ‘mistake’).”

Ross was suspended for four weeks without pay. CNN’s Raju and Herb will not face disciplinary action because they followed CNN’s editorial standards process, and the network does not believe the reporters’ sources intended to deceive them, CNN’s Oliver Darcy wrote in a separate article explaining the mistake.

While some of the president’s attacks were over legitimately inaccurate reporting, which mainstream outlets do correct, Trump regularly vents at the media’s coverage of him and his administration and labels news organizations as “fake news” — while often singling out Fox News as the single most trustworthy cable news channel.

Two weeks ago, he tweeted that there should be a contest as to which network, except Fox, “is the most dishonest, corrupt and/or distorted in its political coverage of your favorite President (me.)”

“They are all bad. Winner to receive the FAKE NEWS TROPHY!” Trump said.

Trump also has singled out CNN, tweeting in late November that CNN International “is still a major source of (Fake) news, and they represent our Nation to the WORLD very poorly.”

CNN’s public relations department, as well as several reporters and analysts, fired back. Many reminded their social media followers that the network’s foreign correspondents risk their lives every day to deliver the news.

Read more:

ABC News apologizes for ‘serious error’ in Trump report and suspends Brian Ross for four weeks

One problem with CNN’s defense against Trump’s latest attack

Three CNN employees resign over retracted story on Russia ties

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