September 25, 2021

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CNN’s fact check on Trump’s statement about Comey admitting to leaking is fake news

3 min read
CNN’s fact check on Trump's statement about Comey admitting to leaking is fake news

CNN came under fire Thursday when its in-house fact-checker reported President Trump “falsely claims former FBI Director James Comey admitted to leaking” when the network had reported otherwise, and James Comey, in fact, had admitted to leaking.

President Trump said during Thursday’s post-acquittal remarks that Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, has a “voice that scares people” and he “thinks” Grassley was the person who initially got ex-FBI Director James Comey to admit he leaked to the press.

“I think that was when Comey announced that he was leaking,” Trump said, but CNN’s fact-checker did not mention the word “think,” instead declaring that Trump “falsely claimed that, in an exchange with Sen. Chuck Grassley at a committee meeting, James Comey admitted to being a leaker.”

It turns out that President Trump’s timeline was off by a few weeks and James Comey was still lying about being a leaker when he was grilled by Grassley in May 2017. The lack of clarity agitated CNN producer-turned-Fourth Watch editor Steve Krakauer, who slammed his former employer for the gaffe in his media newsletter.

“When you take on the role of fact-checker, you have zero margin of error to be wrong yourself, or else the whole exercise becomes a charade. However, that’s what happened today as CNN furiously fact-checked Trump’s post-impeachment open mic afternoon,” Krakauer wrote, pointing to a tweet from CNN Politics’ verified Twitter account.

Krakauer noted that “CNN’s own reporting shows that James Comey has admitted to leaking, which he was reprimanded for in the IG report.”

CNN reported in June 2017 that Comey testified “that he orchestrated the leak of accounts of conversations with President Donald Trump because he thought it might lead to the appointment of a special prosecutor to lead the Russia investigation.”

CNN eventually issued a “clarification” to its fact-checker’s article on Thursday “to make clear that is about what Comey said to Grassley” but CNN never deleted the inaccurate tweet that was used to promote the now-clarified story.

“That’s unacceptable for a news organization – particularly one that spends so much energy conducting fact-checks as part of their antagonistic relationship with the White House,” Krakauer wrote.

Krakauer wasn’t the only person to mock CNN for the situation, and its tweet was hit with an onslaught of criticism:

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