CNN reported that 1) an intelligence report delivered to President Obama and President-Elect Trump had an appendix of “raw” intelligence reporting 2) information received from a former MI-6 operative who was hired to conduct opposition research for Trump’s political opponents that he had 3) received reports from secondary Russian sources that they in turn were told by other Russians (tertiary sources) that there was gossip going around Moscow that the Russian government had embarrassing information it could use against Donald Trump. CNN also reported that the CIA report appendix regarded the former MI-6 agent and his secondary sources as reliable. The appendix did not make any such claim with regard to the tertiary sources.
The big “Breaking News” story from CNN yesterday then was that there is gossip around Moscow that the FSB has compromising information on Donald Trump.
That is Fake News, not at all supported by the attempt to prop it up by its appearance in an appendix of raw intelligence attached to a report. It is simply not news to report that unnamed persons in Moscow are saying utterly unsubstantiated things about Trump as a way to get those things into the public discussion.
CNN also reported that three Trump campaign operatives were dealing with the Russian government during the campaign. One, Michael Cohen, was reported to be negotiating in Prague, when his passport shows he never left the country. (It turned out that another Michael Cohen, unconnected to Trump, was in Prague.) Another, Paul Manaforte has flatly denied any such contact and the third was fired by the Trump campaign before the reported events.
Sean Spicer, Trump’s Press Secretary vigorously pushed back, calling the reports “fake news.” In his televised press conference Trump himself called out CNN and BuzzFeed for the false reports, pointedly refusing to take a question from CNN. Trump also addressed the implications of the report by specifically stating that when he traveled in Russia, it was always with an entourage whom he advised that there were always hidden cameras everywhere they would be.
Responding to Trump’s attack CNN later reported that Russian officials denied they had any compromising material on Trump. However, they also said the officials denied that Russia ever collects compromising information on visitors and, of course we all know that is not true.
Jake Tapper of CNN who broke “the story” virtuously tried to distinguish CNN from BuzzFeed which published the contents of the appendix including allegations that the FSB had video of Trump cavorting with prostitutes in a Moscow hotel room. CNN, by contrast, merely left the salacious implications of the meaning of “compromising information” to the viewer. CNN has shown its true colors.
The whole point of Fake News is to inject false information into the public discussion. That is exactly what CNN has accomplished with its report.