Earlier this year, we saw how the New York Times, as an icon of mainstream media, erred in following standards of objectivity, fairness, and accuracy. In another instance of the mainstream media’s tendency to publish unsubstantiated information, CNN recently story ran a story saying President Donald Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen knew that the President knew about a meeting with a Russian lawyer ahead of the 2016 election.
The CNN story was based on an interview with Cohen’s personal attorney, Lanny Davis, who spoke as an anonymous source. Davis last month backed away from confident assertions he made that Cohen has information that he would be willing to share with investigators that shows Trump knew in 2016 of Russian influence to undermine Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
Cohen pleaded guilty to violating finance laws during the 2016 presidential election by handling hush money for Trump's alleged lovers.
Davis said his client had knowledge of whether Donald Trump knew in advance about the computer hacking that undermined his opponent, Hillary Clinton.
“CNN reported that Cohen was claiming to have witnessed Trump being informed of the Russians’ offer by Trump Jr. and that the then-candidate approved the meeting,” The Washington Post reported after the CNN story created a furore.
Davis later retracted the statement, saying he should not have expressed such confidence in his information.
“I should have been more clear — including with you — that I could not independently confirm what happened,” Davis told the Post, adding: “I regret my error.”
CNN has stood by the story, reports AP, along with the Post.
CNN reported that Cohen intended to tell Special Counsel Robert Mueller that President Trump knew about the meeting after Davis gave the details as an anonymous source.
“It appears that CNN has messed up again,” says Jeff Charles of Liberty Nation.
Instead of owning up the error and running an apology, CNN has stood by the story, thereby damaging the time-honored ethical standards of journalism. It is surprising that the mainstream media have not shown the traditionally high standards of fairness and accuracy in light of the President’s description of the mainstream outlets as “fake news media.”