By Robert Njeru
CNN recently retracted the publication of a Russia-related article and as a result, three of their journalists have quit.
The journalists are Eric Lichtblau, an editor; Thomas Frank, who wrote the retracted story and Lex Haris, the executive editor in charge of the channel’s investigative unit. The article had been posted on CNN.com before it was retracted and replaced with an editor’s note.
Some standard editorial processes were ignored in the process of coming up with the article, this is according to an internal investigation carried out by the CNN management.
A CNN spokesman said that the media house had accepted the resignations of the three employees that were part of the botched story.
The article was about a “Russian investment fund that was linked with Trump officials,” being under investigation by Congress. It cited one anonymous source.
CNN executives were concerned that this story had missed the normal editorial workflow. Under ordinary circumstances, this kind of a story has to go through several departments like lawyers, journalism standards experts and fact-checkers before it can be posted.
One of the people briefed on the investigation revealed that members of the investigative unit were informed that the story “wasn’t solid enough to publish as-is” and therefore it wasn’t necessarily wrong.
Trump ally Anthony Scaramucci; who is one of the persons named in the story, has come out to defend himself, claiming that he “did no mistake.”
The editor’s note that replaced the article said that “CNN had disabled Links to the story” because it did not meet the company’s editorial standards. It also came with an apology addressed to Scaramucci.
Scaramucci responded by posting a tweet in which he accepted the company’s apology, reiterating that everyone makes mistakes.
The three journalists had built quite a reputation and their colleagues must still be in shock.
Before joining CNN, Frank spent three decades working for Newsday and USA Today, covering the Iraq war as an embedded reporter and pursuing investigations.
Lichtblau joined CNN just three months ago; he clinched a Pulitzer Prize for national reporting in 2006 and is a veteran of The New York Times.
Haris has served previously as the executive editor of CNNMoney and was recently chosen to be the executive editor of CNN Investigates. He has been with CNN since 2001.
In his statement, Haris said that he had decided to resign as an Executive Editor because CNN had retracted the story he had been working on with his team. He also said that CNN has instilled in him the principles of fairness and accuracy and he will always treasure them for that.
Eric Lichtblau, Thomas Frank and Lex Haris were part of an ambitious investigative unit that was created last winter. CNN now has the challenge of replacing these talented men.