Three CNN journalists who had varying degrees of involvement in the false report published on CNN.com this past Thursday linking Trump transition team member Anthony Scaramucci to a billion-dollar Russian investment fund have left the network.
Out are the author of the original story, Thomas Frank; Eric Lichtblau, an editor for CNN Investigates, the unit under which the story was reported; and Lex Haris, who oversaw the unit.
“In the aftermath of the retraction of a story published on CNN.com, CNN has accepted the resignations of the employees involved in the story’s publication,” a CNN spokesman told TVNewser.
The article was published Thursday on CNN.com, and was shared on CNN’s social media platforms. On Friday, Scaramucci, one of the people named in the story, disputed Frank’s reporting about his links to a fund run by a Kremlin-controlled bank, saying, “I did nothing wrong.” The story was taken down from the site and then retracted on Friday night.
Scaramucci, a former Fox Business host/contributor who is expected to join the Trump administration in some capacity, later tweeted his thanks to CNN for retracting the story, calling the move “classy.”
An internal investigation performed by the network allegedly concluded that the usual editorial standards weren’t followed in the story’s editing and publication. Just one anonymous source was used in the story, and fact checkers were reportedly not utilized before the story was published.
Unlike the James Comey-related report that the network was forced to retract earlier in June, commentary on this particular report did not air on CNN.
These departures come not long after CNN made clear that it would be imposing stricter standards on all stories pertaining to Russia in light of this false report.
Frank, Lichtblau and Haris are respected veteran journalists and were all relatively new to CNN.
According to CNN’s Brian Stelter, Frank, whose three decades in journalism included stops at USA Today and Newsday, was part of an ambitious new investigative unit that was created last winter, bringing together teams from within the company and new hires like Lichtblau, who won a Pulitzer Prize for national reporting in 2006 at The New York Times, and Haris, executive editor for CNNMoney before taking on the same role on the CNN Investigates team.
“On Friday, CNN retracted a story published by my team. As Executive Editor of that team, I have resigned,” Haris said in a statement. “I’ve been with CNN since 2001, and am sure about one thing: This is a news organization that prizes accuracy and fairness above all else. I am leaving, but will carry those principles wherever I go.”