This morning president-elect Donald Trump made headlines when he refused to take a question from a CNN reporter, accusing the network of being “fake news.” Trump was bitter about CNN’s report that intelligence agencies have collected information that Russian’s might have sensitive personal material about Trump. Yesterday Buzzfeed published an explosive article detailing a portion of the content that Russian operatives allegedly possess, some of which was sexually explicit. Trump conflated CNN’s modest report with Buzzfeed’s more salacious version in an attempt to discredit the major broadcaster.
CNN has released their response to Trump’s verbal assault on their reporter and on their most basic integrity as a newscaster, and it’s scathing. CNN begins:
“CNN’s decision to publish carefully sourced reporting about the operations of our government is vastly different than Buzzfeed’s decision to publish unsubstantiated memos. The Trump team knows this. They are using Buzzfeed’s decision to deflect from CNN’s reporting, which has been matched by the other major news organizations.” [Emphasis ours.]
Trump and his staff have clearly made a deliberate decision to undermine the credibility of mainstream, moderate reporting because a particular CNN story doesn’t suit their narrative. The move is a de facto attempt to silence negative press by convincing the public to automatically discredit them. CNN retorted that their reporting “represents the core of what the First Amendment protects, informing the people of the inner workings of their government.”
CNN did not report any content of the memos besides suggesting that they contain sensitive personal and financial information related to Trump. They stuck only to facts that could be completely substantiated by diligent reporting, steering clear of all controversial allegations. Given this, CNN closed their statement with a challenge: “Given that members of the Trump transition team have so vocally criticized our reporting, we encourage them to identify, specifically, what they believe to be inaccurate.”
We expect that, for once, Trump supporters will fall silent.