On Friday, CNN claimed that the Trump team received access to hacked WikiLeaks files before they were made public. But the network made a serious mistake in the reporting, turning a potential bombshell story into a dud.
US President Donald Trump called CNN “fake news” and suggested that the mistake CNN made in its report about alleged collusion between WikiLeaks and his team was “purposeful.”
“Fake News CNN made a vicious and purposeful mistake yesterday. They were caught red handed, just like lonely Brian Ross at ABC News (who should be immediately fired for his ‘mistake’). Watch to see if @CNN fires those responsible, or was it just gross incompetence?” Trump said on Twitter on Saturday.
In an “exclusive report,” CNN claimed on Friday that an encryption key providing access to hacked DNC emails from WikiLeaks had been sent to Donald Trump, his son Donald Trump Jr. and aides on September 4, 2016, before the leaks were made public.
The whistleblower organization published the documents on September 13, so the nine-day advance would be very significant, taking into account ongoing allegations of collusion between the Trump administration and WikiLeaks. Mainstream media have repeatedly claimed that WikiLeaks is working in the interests of the Russian government.
After the story was published, The Washington Post obtained a copy of the email, which was actually sent to the Trump team on September 14, 2016, not September 4, a day after the documents were made public. A number of conflicting reports from other media outlets also pointed out the mistake.
CNN later updated the story with a correction, saying its “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.”
“The new information indicates that the communication is less significant than CNN initially reported,” the broadcaster admits.
President Trump also attacked CNN for the wrongful coverage as he attended a rally in Pensacola, Florida, late Friday.
“CNN apologized just a little while ago. They apologized. Oh thank you, CNN, thank you so much,” the president said. “You should have been apologizing for the last two years.”
Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr. took to Twitter to criticize CNN for not fully retracting the story instead of correcting it.
Earlier this week, Trump Jr. spent nearly eight hours testifying in a closed session before members of the House Intelligence Committee about a January 2016 meeting at Trump Tower and his communications with WikiLeaks, as part of an ongoing probe into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election in the US.
WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange and journalist Glenn Greenwald also commented on the situation with CNN.