The work week began with news that Michael Flynn had pled guilty to lying to the FBI and Brian Ross’s erroneous report that candidate Donald Trump had directed him to contact the Russians. Ross was then suspended four weeks without pay for the botched report. The work finished, however, with CNN’s Manu Raju and Jeremy Herb reported that a Mike Erickson had sent an email on September 4 to Trump and his son Donald Trump, Jr. linking to a cachet of WikiLeaks documents and the corresponding decryption key. However, reporting from other outlets indicated that the email came on the 14th, after WikiLeaks itself had already publicized the trove of documents.
By the end of the day, the network had issued a correction and rewritten the article while having Raju appear on television to also make corrections.
CNN PR tweeted out a statement, “CNN’s initial reporting of the date on an email sent to members of the Trump campaign about Wikileaks documents, which was confirmed by two sources to CNN, was incorrect. We have updated our story to include the correct date, and present the proper context for the timing of email.”
The article was also updated with the correction, “This story has been corrected to say the date of the email was September 14, 2016, not September 4, 2016. The story also changed the headline and removed a tweet from Donald Trump Jr., who posted a message about WikiLeaks on September 4, 2016.”
However, a CNN spokesperson says that there will not be any disciplinary action, “There will not be any disciplinary action taken because every procedure put in place as part of the editorial process was followed. People don’t get fired at CNN for making a mistake. They get fired when they don’t follow editorial procedures.”
Some pushed for CNN to reveal the bad sources as the Washington Post had done when they found out that Project Veritas was trying to trick them into publishing a false accusation against Roy Moore. CNN has not currently done that as of publication and a CNN spokesperson did not respond as to whether they intended to.
However with the correction, there is an open question as to what is newsworthy about the story. As it currently stands, a potentially random person (according to the article, “Congressional investigators are uncertain who the sender is, and CNN was unable to make contact with the individual”) sent the Trumps a link to information already publicly available. As the article states, the correction means “the communication is less significant than CNN initially reported.”