Three Journalists 'Leave' CNN After Retracted Article
Three CNN journalists, including the executive editor in charge of a new investigative unit, have resigned after the publication of a Russia-related article that was retracted.
Thomas Frank, who wrote the story in question; Eric Lichtblau, an editor in the unit; and Lex Haris, who oversaw the unit, have all left CNN.
"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 spokesman said Monday evening.
An internal investigation by CNN management found that some standard editorial processes were not followed when the article was published, people briefed on the results of the investigation said.
The story, which reported that Congress was investigating a "Russian investment fund with ties to Trump officials," cited a single anonymous source.
These types of stories are typically reviewed by several departments within CNN -- including fact-checkers, journalism standards experts and lawyers -- before publication.
This breakdown in editorial workflow disturbed the CNN executives who learned about it.
In a staff meeting Monday afternoon, investigative unit members were told that the retraction did not mean the facts of the story were necessarily wrong. Rather, it meant that "the story wasn't solid enough to publish as-is," one of the people briefed on the investigation said.
The reporting about the Russian investment fund and Trump officials was not relayed on CNN's television channels, but it was published on the web and shared on social media.
On Friday, one of the people named in the story, Trump ally Anthony Scaramucci, disputed Frank's reporting and said, "I did nothing wrong."
Friday night, once it was determined that editorial processes were not followed, CNN deleted the story from CNN.com. Soon thereafter, the story was officially retracted and replaced with an editor's note.
The piece "did not meet CNN's editorial standards and has been retracted," the note said. "Links to the story have been disabled."
The editor's note also included an apology to Scaramucci.