CNN sent three staffers packing after its false story about a Trump transition team member because the network feared a libel lawsuit that could hurt parent company Time Warner’s proposed purchase by AT&T, according to the New York Post.
Their sources said that CNN “immediately caved” after Anthony Scaramucci threatened a $100 million suit after the network falsely linked him to an investment fund owned by the Russian government. Within hours, CNN retracted the story.
Journalists Tom Frank, Eric Lichtblau and Lex Haris were then ‘urged to resign,'” Smith reports. “They called them in and said they’d pay out their contracts, but they should leave immediately,” one source told her.
More from the NY Post:
“The cable network’s coverage of Trump transition team member Anthony Scaramucci came amid federal scrutiny of corporate parent Time Warner’s pending purchase by AT&T — and the widespread belief among media execs that CNN President Jeff Zucker can’t survive a merger.
CNN immediately caved after Scaramucci, a financier and frequent network guest, cried foul and threatened to take legal action, sources said Tuesday.
Scaramucci got an unusual public apology but still hired a top Manhattan lawyer to put further pressure on CNN and “look after [his] interests in this matter,” one source said.
Sources also said the three journalists responsible for the retracted story — reporter Tom Frank, editor Eric Lichtblau and Lex Haris, who headed the CNN Investigates unit — were urged to resign.
Zucker was afraid of facing a high-profile suit from Scaramucci while the US Justice Department weighs the proposed $85.4 billion media merger.
Meanwhile, a CNN insider said staffers are furious at “having lost the moral high ground because of this story.” Sources said Zucker tried to rally his staff during a Tuesday morning conference call.
“Zucker stressed that this issue was a ‘lapse in editorial standards’ and said it was a lesson to all reporters and editors to continue to strive for strong, accurate reporting,” a source said.
At last week’s Cannes Lions festival in France — where Zucker boasted that viewers trust CNN “more than ever” — rumors were rife that he’d be out of a job if the AT&T deal goes through.
“It’s not just Jeff Zucker, all Time Warner executives are anxious about if they will survive the merger,” a media source said Tuesday.”
Isn’t it sad that if it wasn’t for a $100 million threat, they would have kept their fake news story up? That just goes to show the pure scum that CNN has always been.