On Tuesday, the President of the United States took to Twitter to call CNN “fake news” and retweet a graphic depicting CNN as the Fake News Network with a reworked logo. The tweets, which the White House has said should be treated as official statements from the President, came in the wake of a since-retracted CNN story about possible links between Trump ally Anthony Scaramucci and a Russian investment fund. The resulting controversy led to three journalists involved resigning from CNN.
Trump also said that “CNN is looking at big management changes,” however there is no reporting to back that claim up.
The story also came up during the White House press briefing. Charlie Spiering, the White House correspondent for Breitbart News, asked Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders why the apology by CNN, accepted apology by Scaramucci, and three resignations were not enough for the President. Sanders countered by saying that the President was frustrated by the constant barrage of negative stories while positive stories coming from the White House were not, in their eyes, adequately covered, “I think it’s the constant barrage of fake news directed at this President probably that has garnered a lot of his frustration.”
Sanders also pointed to a video from Project Veritas, the controversial site run by conservative filmmaker James O’Keefe, released that same day that showed a CNN health news producer criticizing the network’s focus on potential collusion between the Russian government and the Trump campaign. Some of O’Keefe’s videos have been discredited and the release of the tape was largely met with a shrug in mainstream circles. CNN said in a statement, “CNN stands by our medical producer John Bonifield.”
“Diversity of personal opinion is what makes CNN strong, we welcome it and embrace it.”
Sanders for her part told reporters and America to watch the video, “There’s a video circulating now, whether it’s accurate or not I don’t know, but I would encourage everybody in this room, and, frankly, everybody across the country to take a look at it. I think if it is accurate, I think it’s a disgrace to all of media, to all of journalism.”
She then went on to criticize the use of anonymous sources even though the Administration regularly uses anonymous sources to get their message out.
The release of O’Keefe’s video was widely shared in some circles on the right, viewing it as proof of CNN’s bias against the President. Donald Trump, Jr. tweeted the video or mentioned it several times on Tuesday and then retweeted his own tweets about the videos in his attack on CNN.
Several journalists have come to CNN’s defense though. Even MSNBC host Joe Scarborough tweeted, “The men and women of @CNN have every reason to take great pride in their work. #RealNews.”