When an anonymous source gives bad information to a journalist, that source should no longer be protected by the cloak of anonymity. And the angriest people involved in the entire scenario should be the reporter who passed on the bad information and the company that broadcast or published it.
So, why is CNN so complacent about one of the biggest fake stories in the entire Russian Collusion affair?
For extensive background on the meat of the story, you should read Matt Vespa's great column yesterday.
In summary: While the Mueller Special Counsel team was forming its case against Paul Manafort, CNN ran with an anonymous-sourced story that the FBI had a FISA warrant on Manafort that pre-dated the formation of Mueller's investigation. It appears as though the press reports of the FISA warrant may have compelled the judge overseeing the Manafort grand jury to make a ruling that compelled Manafort's lawyer to testify (an apparent breach of attorney/client privilege).
It turns out that the Manafort FISA story was a complete fake. Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz made that determination in his extensive investigation of the Crossfire Hurricane probe and other FISA examinations.
Here is DOJ IG Horowitz emphatically stating in his report that not only did the FBI's Crossfire team not seek a FISA on Manafort, they never even “seriously considered” FISA surveillance of Manafort. (Horowitz repeated that no FISA existed at all under oath to Congress too) pic.twitter.com/Z8CAC2D5uq— Undercover Huber (@JohnWHuber) May 20, 2020
Indeed, after the Horowitz report showed that there was no FISA on Manafort, CNN added a curious "Editor's note" to their story (emphasis mine):
"On December 9, 2019, the Justice Department Inspector General released a report regarding the opening of the investigation on Russian election interference and Donald Trump's campaign. In the report, the IG contradicts what CNN was told in 2017, noting that the FBI team overseeing the investigation did not seek FISA surveillance of Paul Manafort: 'We were also told that the team also did not seek FISA surveillance of Manafort...and we are aware of no information indicating that the Crossfire Hurricane team requested or seriously considered FISA surveillance of Manafort.'"
An "Editor's note." Not a retraction. Not an apology. Not a re-examination of their methods and sources that led to this article in the first place. No. An "Editor's note."
In plain words, the "Editor's note" says that a thorough investigation has determined that this entire article you are about to read is 100 percent false. The story is literally fake news.
And that was that. No follow-up. No further reporting. No nothing. CNN moves on.
This suggests that CNN and the reporters on this story are perfectly fine with their network being used to broadcast false information for political or criminal purposes. And that's... troubling.
We should have a right to know who this anonymous source is. The anonymous source lied and planted a false story, and they may very well have done it to influence a judge, a grand jury and the outcome of a criminal investigation.
And this does not trouble CNN. It should. They should care.
When a story is anonymously sourced, the reason the person wants to get the story out there and wants to remain anonymous is a story unto itself. CNN is ignoring that story.
And now that we know (we've actually known for several months) that this story was fake, it's an even bigger story. And CNN doesn't care.
Here is the story CNN is ignoring, and they have all of the information needed to publish it... exclusively. I mean, this is their story. It's a huge scoop.
A person with knowledge of the FBI's investigation into the Trump campaign (and with possible ties to Robert Mueller's investigation) purposefully planted a false story about a target of the Mueller investigation. The story may have influenced a judge's ruling and the outcome of the grand jury proceedings.
But, that story, which is a big story, would be damaging to the Comey/McCabe FBI and possibly to the Mueller investigation team. So, CNN is not interested.
CNN was used. CNN's reporter Evan Perez was used. They were lied to, and they were used. And they've said nothing. Why not?
This is not the first time an anonymous source has burned CNN and its reporters. It's also not the first time CNN and its reporters have been used to push a story by powerful politicians and government officials for political purposes. And, since CNN and its reporters don't seem to mind being used and lied to as long as the political targets are in keeping with their worldview and agenda, this will not be the last time it happens.
Just as long as we all know where CNN and its reporters stand and what business they are in. Or, more accurately, what business they are not in. The American public can't be sure what business they are in, we just know it's not the news business.
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