When the media came up with its “fake news” meme, it really should have foreseen just how easily it could be turned against it. As indeed it has. President-elect Trump casually dismisses CNN as fake news. And it’s hard to argue, even for CNNers, that he doesn’t have a point.
After going with the discredited BuzzFeed story, CNN put out this defensive memo.
“CNN’s decision to publish carefully sourced reporting about the operations of our government is vastly different than Buzzfeed’s decision to publish unsubstantiated memos. The Trump team knows this. They are using Buzzfeed’s decision to deflect from CNN’s reporting, which has been matched by the other major news organizations. We are fully confident in our reporting. It represents the core of what the First Amendment protects, informing the people of the inner workings of their government; in this case, briefing materials prepared for President Obama and President-elect Trump last week. We made it clear that we were not publishing any of the details of the 35-page document because we have not corroborated the report’s allegations.”
Except that here’s what CNN reported.
Classified documents presented last week to President Obama and President-elect Trump included allegations that Russian operatives claim to have compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump, multiple US officials with direct knowledge of the briefings tell CNN.
Except that is a significant misrepresentation of what really happened.
President-elect Donald Trump was not told about unverified reports that Russia has compromising information on him during last week’s intelligence briefing, according to a senior intelligence official with knowledge of preparations for the briefing.
A summary of the unverified reports was prepared as background material for the briefing, but not discussed during the meeting, the official said. During Trump’s press conference Wednesday morning, the president-elect said he was made aware of the information “outside that meeting.”
A 35-page memorandum published by BuzzFeed on Tuesday includes claims that the Russian government has been cultivating, supporting and assisting Trump for five years — even obtaining compromising information in an effort to blackmail him. The document, which was not prepared by the U.S. government, contains obvious errors. It was originally generated as part of opposition research by anti-Trump Republicans and then shopped by Democrats.
According to the senior official, the two-page summary about the unsubstantiated material made available to the briefers was to provide context, should they need it, to draw the distinction for Trump between analyzed intelligence and unvetted “disinformation.”
In short, intel people were using the documents to distinguish between their own materials and various garbage floating around. The classification of said documents then is rather debatable and CNN significantly misrepresented what took place.
CNN damaged the credibility of the intelligence community, something that they keep accusing Trump of doing, in order to score some headlines and smear Trump. How do you not call that fake news?