Three employees from CNN have departed the news organization shortly after a story accusing President Donald Trump of having a connection with a Russian financial company was retracted.
The man who wrote the story, Thomas Frank, investigative unit editor Eric Lichtblau and editor Lex Harris are no longer with CNN, the company announced after a review of the story in question.
“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.
Frank is a veteran reporter that has spent over 30 years in the newspaper business, even garnering a nod as a Pulitzer Prize nominee.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Frank Issued a Retraction on a Story About Trump’s Connection to a Russian Investment Fund
Frank’s story, which was published to CNN.com and didn’t appear on the TV news network, cited a single anonymous source. It spoke of how investigators in the Senate were checking out a meeting between Anthony Scaramucci, a Wall Street financer who founded SkyBridge Capital, and an executive for the Russian Direct Investment Fund, a $10 billion fund that invests directly into Russian companies.
Scaramucci served on Trump’s transition team prior to him taking office, so the meeting that Frank alleged he had with the Russian company would certainly be scrutinized. But Scaramucci has said that the story simply is not true.
Therefore, CNN removed the story from its website and issued a retraction.
2. CNN Said Standard Processes Were Not Followed When Writing the Story
After the story in question was published, CNN said that it launched an investigation into the matter and found that it “didn’t meet CNN’s editorial standards.”
Typically, stories such as those with just one anonymous source are reviewed by multiple departments within the company before they are published, Brian Stelter wrote in a story posted to its website. That includes fact-checkers, journalism standards experts and lawyers.
“This breakdown in editorial workflow disturbed the CNN executives who learned about it,” Stelter wrote.
Staff members in CNN’s editorial department held a meeting June 26, and those from its investigative unit did say that the retraction on Frank’s story didn’t mean the facts were wrong.
“It meant that the story wasn’t solid enough to publish as-is,” somebody at CNN briefed on the investigation said.
After the retraction was entered, Scaramucci said he was pleased with how CNN responded to the story he deemed as incorrect.
3. Frank Was a Pulitzer Prize Finalist & Received Other Honors
Frank was a reporter for CNN Investigates where he reported on government affairs in Washington D.C. Before coming to CNN, Frank spent 32 years as a newspaper reporter and was an investigative reporter for USA Today.
At USA Today, he received strong recognition for a series of stories that he wrote about government pensions.
Frank’s articles dove into elected officials who receive pensions for their legislative service.In one instance, he wrote about South Carolina Sen. David Thomas, who started collecting a pension without leaving office. Thomas and some of his colleagues used a law that was passed in 2002 where legislators are allowed to receive their taxpayer-funded pensions — instead of a salary — after serving 30 years or more.
That series earned him Pulitzer Prize honors, as he was a finalist for the prestigious award in 2012. In addition to that recognition, he was honored by Investigative Reporters and Editors, the National Press Foundation, the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, the National Press Club and the Loeb Awards.
Before working for USA Today, he worked for the Denver Post, the Providence Journal and the Express-Times, where he covered government and politics.
4. Frank Covered the War in Iraq
While Frank was at USA Today and then Newsday, he reported from Iraq numerous times and was the publication’s reporter overseas when the U.S. Army invaded the country in 2003. Shortly thereafter, he covered the 2004 presidential election and reported on homeland security after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
When he worked for Newsday, Frank was the first reporter to cover the U.S. military’s use of cluster bombs, his LinkedIn account said.
5. Frank Graduated From School In Connecticut
Frank went to Wesleyan University in 1980 and graduated from the Middletown, Connecticut college in 1984 with a bachelor’s degree.
Wesleyan is a private liveral arts college that was founded in 1831. It emphasizes srudies of arts and sciences.