Three journalists have left CNN in the wake of a retracted story that alleged that Anthony Scaramucci, an ally to President Donald Trump, was being investigated by Congress for ties to a Russian investment fund. The story was criticized and Scaramucci spoke out saying, “I did nothing wrong.” CNN eventually deleted and retracted the story, saying it “did not meet CNN’s editorial standards.”
The three journalists in question are article writer Thomas Frank, editor Eric Lichtblau, and CNN Investigations unit executive editor Lex Haris.
“In the aftermath of the retraction of a story published on CNN.com, CNN has accepted the resignations of the employees involved in the story’s publication,” a CNN spokesperson said.
BuzzFeed News reported that CNN Worldwide president Jeff Zucker was directly involved in an investigation of what went wrong. It was ultimately concluded that proper editorial process was not followed. There was no judgement on the accuracy of the story, with the belief that the story may end up being true.
Media observers were surprised at the fallout of the story. Peter Sterne, a reporter for the Freedom of Press Foundation, tweeted in part, “This feels like an overreaction.” However some applauded CNN for the move, like New York Post opinion editor Seth Mandel who tweeted, “Whoa. Lichtblau is one of those leaving. CNN is taking this really seriously, and setting quite an example for media accountability” and “Seriously. This is one of those times media critics on the right should speak up and praise CNN. This is pride-swallowing, grownup stuff.” Commentary magazine editor John Podhoretz tweeted, “CNN published a bad story, pulled it, apologized. 3 journalists quit. That’s impressive and decisive action. Yelling “Fake News” unfair” and “CNN acknowledged its own error and took action almost immediately. This is what people should want.”
“On Friday, CNN retracted a story published by my team. As Executive Editor of that team, I have resigned,” Haris said in a statement Monday evening. “I’ve been with CNN since 2001, and am sure about one thing: This is a news organization that prizes accuracy and fairness above all else.”
“I am leaving, but will carry those principles wherever I go.”
The three were members of CNN’s dedicated investigative unit that relaunched several months ago. Haris moved to the unit from CNNMoney where he was previously executive editor.
Scaramucci for his part responded to the retraction by tweeting, “.@CNN did the right thing. Classy move. Apology accepted. Everyone makes mistakes. Moving on.”