President Trump is referring to the CNN story about Michael Cohen claiming that Trump knew about the infamous Trump Tower meeting in advance. That is now being questioned since Lanny Davis, Cohen’s attorney, is backtracking on that claim and has identified himself as the anonymous source for the original story. Of course, Trump and his supporters are now crying “FAKE NEWS” and calling out CNN for blatant lies and putting forth a purely fabricated story.
Here’s how one conservative website is portraying it:
What’s crazy about all of this is that this is the actual fake news that Trump has been talking about from day one. Sure, he lumps in a lot of other stuff, but this kind of false reporting just bolsters his claims that CNN is out to get him and the leader in the Fake News Media.TheRightScoop
I’ll return to this in a bit…
Look, we all know that much of the media has had a liberal bent for as long as we can remember. I can’t tell you how excited I was to have FoxNews included in our cable lineup 20 years ago. CNN, MSNBC, Network News…buh-bye!
In my house, FoxNews was on nearly 24/7 from 1998 until early 2016.
Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin…a constant listener from about 1990 until early 2016. Subscriber to the early Limbaugh Letter, member of Rush 24/7, reader of every book Levin wrote…I sucked it all in.
Knowing what I now know, I shudder to think about all of that.
Suffice it to say that I’ve been well aware of the liberal mainstream media for a very long time. I’ve railed at, screamed about, and fought against it with the best of them.
Then came Donald Trump.
When I saw what was happening, I could not believe my eyes and ears. All of these people were shilling for, were lying for, were covering-up for this guy who I knew was a complete fraud. What was going on? Had I been misled for all of these years?
A big part of me thinks I should go back for 30 years and reevaluate all of the big debates…all of the big scandals…were they all doing the same thing for all of it all of this time?
To be clear, I am not suggesting that I think I’m wrong to believe in true conservative, constitutional, founding principles and the liberal, progressive Democrats have been right. Far from it.
What I am suggesting is that I have come to realize we’ve been doing it all wrong all of these years.
A large part of the realization comes from taking a much deeper dive into researching and learning those true conservative, constitutional, founding principles. To that, I actually do owe some of these guys (mostly Levin) for the inspiration. Ironically, it led me to see these guys (including Levin) for who they really are.
Armed with that new, deeper knowledge, as well as learning much more about economics (which is crucial in analyzing almost all policies), it was very easy to watch Trump and see how wrong he was…about nearly everything. So when these people began telling me how right he was, big red flags started to vigorously wave, and they haven’t stopped yet.
What, over all of the past years, have I simply taken for granted? What had I simply believed, taking all of these people at their word, out of what now is clear to be undeserved trust?
When Trump started attacking the media, it was the epitome of throwing red meat to Republicans. We Republicans had been complaining for years about our Republican leaders always trying to play nice with the media and always getting burned for it. So we were ripe for someone to take them on, to say the least.
But Trump is the wrong person to do so. In fact, I can’t think of a more wrong person. He has no credibility to claim that others are peddling “FAKE NEWS”, for he is the reigning KING of FAKE NEWS. For him to be the one making this argument for the Republicans/Conservatives, it sullies the entire thing and people will never take us seriously on that issue ever again. Especially when we give credence to him and back-up his nonsense.
Ok, back to the CNN story and the claims of “FAKE NEWS”…
This story is now being portrayed as the perfect example of what Trump has been talking about when he claims “FAKE NEWS”. But is it actually fake? Did CNN actually lie? Let’s take a closer look.
The original CNN story was headlined, “Cohen claims Trump knew in advance of 2016 Trump Tower meeting” and begins with that claim.
Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, claims that then-candidate Trump knew in advance about the June 2016 meeting in Trump Tower in which Russians were expected to offer his campaign dirt on Hillary Clinton, sources with knowledge tell CNN. Cohen is willing to make that assertion to special counsel Robert Mueller, the sources said.CNN
Note that they are saying “sources”, not “source”.
To be clear, these sources said Cohen does not have evidence, such as audio recordings, to corroborate his claim, but he is willing to attest to his account.CNN
Of course, President Trump vehemently denies this and his attorney, Rudy Giuliani, calls Cohen a liar.
Rudy Giuliani, the President’s attorney, told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on “Cuomo Prime Time” Thursday night that Cohen has “been lying all week, he’s been lying for years.”CNN
“I don’t see how he’s got any credibility,” Giuliani added.
Giuliani also said Cohen is “the kind of witness that can really destroy your whole case” and called Cohen, who was a top Trump Organization attorney for a decade, a “pathological liar.”
Three weeks later, Lanny Davis, Cohen’s attorney, claims to have been a source for the original CNN story and then backtracks on the claims that Cohen will testify that Trump knew about the Trump Tower meeting.
When CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked Davis on August 22 whether Cohen had evidence that Trump knew about the meeting beforehand, Davis said: “At this juncture I can only say that he was present during a discussion with Junior and dad, and beyond that, his testimony to the Senate Intelligence and House Intelligence committees was accurate.”CNN
He then went on to further retract the claims from Cohen.
From this, according to Trump and his supporters, it absolutely proves that CNN is FAKE NEWS and they completely fabricated the whole story and lied in order to hurt Trump…implying, of course, that this is routine behavior from them.
CNN has responded to the changing story of Lanny Davis with another piece, “Attorney for Michael Cohen keeps changing his story on Trump Tower meeting”.
They are standing by their original story (which makes the Trump supporters’ heads explode).
A CNN spokeswoman said Tuesday: “We stand by our story, which had more than one source, and are confident in our reporting of it.”CNN
They “had more than one source”. This is the important part, so let’s disect that a bit.
Let’s assume that Lanny Davis approached CNN and gave them the scoop on Cohen’s claim that Trump knew, but that Davis wanted to remain anonymous.
What should CNN do with such information? Here it is, the attorney of the personal attorney of the President, who is facing some serious legal problems, providing information about his client that has major ramifications on the investigation of the President’s campaign activities.
Should CNN ignore it? Come on, be serious.
Should they simply run out and immediately report the story with only the one source? No, that would be irresponsible journalism.
What they did was proper journalism…they investigated the claims and found at least one other source to corroborate it…and then ran the story.
How is that FAKE NEWS? Did they lie about what they learned? No. Did they make it all up? No. They were provided a scoop, they checked it out and found an additional source to corroborate it and they ran the story.
One thing that they point out with the CNN story that they claim is a direct lie from CNN is part of the original story where CNN claimed that they had reached out to Lanny Davis for comment on the story, and Davis declined.
Contacted by CNN, one of Cohen’s attorneys, Lanny Davis, declined to comment.CNN
The criticism is that if Davis was a source for the story, why would they then state that they contacted him and he declined comment. The implication is that CNN purposely deceived the reader by making the story appear to be more credible by showing their attempt to verify with Cohen’s attorney, and thus, lied about it.
I will concede that this statement requires some further explanation from CNN. But on it’s face, it does not prove one thing or another. First, the statement comes after the main point of the story is explained and then a further paragraph concerning Cohen’s previous Congressional testimony.
Cohen privately testified last year to two Congressional committees investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election. A source familiar with Cohen’s House testimony said he did not testify that Trump had advance knowledge. Cohen’s claims weren’t mentioned in separate reports issued by Republicans and Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee.CNN
Contacted by CNN, one of Cohen’s attorneys, Lanny Davis, declined to comment.
It’s possible that Davis was the original source for the Cohen claim that Trump knew…then, CNN did some investigating to corroborate, found the additional source, but then learned of Cohen’s Congressional testimony as well. Upon learning of that contradicting testimony, they may very well have contacted Lanny Davis for comment on that, and he declined.
Awkward, yes, but not nefarious.
Also, CNN’s piece about Davis changing his story does not directly acknowledge that Davis was a source for their original report. It only says that Davis is saying that.
He now says that he also was one of the sources for CNN’s story.CNN
The point is, this whole part of it is unclear right now. Make no mistake, I believe CNN should clear it up. In any case, it doesn’t really change the main points of the original story.
“But they’re anonymous sources, Steve! And everyone knows that ‘anonymous sources’ means ‘FAKE NEWS”!”
Oh, shut up.
If not for anonymous sources, we would never learn anything about anything. Don’t be so stupid.
And it’s funny that the big Daily Caller story that Trump and his supporters are now pushing is the blockbuster, smoking-gun news about China hacking Hillary’s server and having all of her emails.
The sources of the Daily Caller story? Yep, you guessed it…anonymous.
And they all eat that up without question.
In the end, it does not appear that CNN lied or made anything up about having sources that told them Cohen was claiming that Trump knew about the Trump Tower meeting. And having one of those sources being Cohen’s attorney, it would seem like a credible source for such a thing. Still, they didn’t run it until they had at least one other source to corroborate. I don’t think we can expect much more from journalism.
Could those sources have been lying to CNN? Sure.
Could Cohen have been lying to those sources? Sure.
Could it be true that Trump had no prior knowledge of the meeting? Sure.
But all of that can be true without CNN having been lying or making up FAKE NEWS. They never claimed that “Trump knew”, they only claimed that multiple sources informed them that Cohen was ready to testify that Trump knew.
Therefore, the claim that CNN put out FAKE NEWS is, itself, FAKE NEWS.
Ugh. I really hate the Trump era.
An interesting side note that doesn’t really change anything about this story is that one of the writers of the original CNN story is none other than Carl Bernstein…you know, one of the guys whose investigative journalism on Watergate was instrumental in bringing down Nixon. Just sayin’ it’s interesting, that’s all.