An already rough week for journalistic verisimilitude got rougher on Friday when CNN mistakenly reported that President Trump and his son were offered access to hacked Wikileaks documents before they were released to the public.
In the initial version of its article, published Friday morning, CNN reported that a person who listed himself as Mike Erickson emailed President Trump, Donald Trump, Jr., and others in the Trump organization on September 4, 2016, offering access to hacked Democratic National Committee emails, as well as pilfered messages from former Secretary of State Colin Powell.
But the Washington Post later reported that the date of the email was actually September 14. The discrepancy is crucial because the latter date came after the documents in question had been released to the public, meaning that the sender of the email would have merely been showing Trump already available documents, not offering him a preview of what was to come.
A CNN spokeswoman said that that reporters had been provided with incorrect information, and would not be disciplined.
Conservatives immediately pounced on the error, which joined two other high-profile, Trump-related blunders from the past week. Last Friday, ABC’s Brian Ross mistakenly reported that President Trump had directed Michael Flynn to make contact with the Russian government while Trump was a candidate. (Ross was suspended for four weeks as a result.) And on Wednesday, Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal reported that Deutsche Bank had received a subpoena requesting President Trump’s bank records. The outlets later updated their stories to reflect that the subpoena was targeted at those who had done business with the president, not Trump himself.