Nowadays, “news” means you can say someone said something — and not even identify that “someone.”
That new kind of journalism happens every day. Even the top newspapers in the country, like The Washington Post and The New York Times, do it.
Now, add CNN to that list.
On Friday night, “Out Front with Erin Burnett” reported that “multiple officials” in the Trump administration have told the network that President Donald Trump routinely uses his personal cellphone to make phone calls “despite repeated warnings” by his staff. CNN said Trump has heard the warnings but “doesn’t care.”
“White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins told CNN anchor Erin Burnett that Trump had been repeatedly warned that his calls could be vulnerable to ‘foreign surveillance,’ which had been a concern of the staff ‘since he took office’ and how the ongoing impeachment inquiry has ‘revived’ such concerns,” Fox News reported.
Trump fired back almost immediately.
“Fake News @CNN is reporting that I am ‘still using personal cell phone for calls despite repeated security warnings.’ This is totally false information and reporting,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “I haven’t had a personal cell phone for years. Only use government approved and issued phones. Retract!”
Fake News @CNN is reporting that I am “still using personal cell phone for calls despite repeated security warnings.” This is totally false information and reporting. I haven’t had a personal cell phone for years. Only use government approved and issued phones. Retract!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 7, 2019
The CNN journalists behind the report responded to the tweet, saying: “We stand by our story,” Fox reported.
It isn’t the first time a mainstream media outlet has claimed that Trump uses a personal cellphone for official government business. In a June story by esteemed New York Times’ reporters Annie Karni and Maggie Haberman — news reporters — anonymous sources were used to make the same claim.
“Late at night, using his old personal cellphone number, President Trump has been calling former advisers who have not heard from him in years, eager to discuss his standing in the polls against the top Democrats in the field — specifically Joseph R. Biden Jr., whom he describes in those conversations as ‘too old’ and ‘not as popular as people think,’” said the story’s lead.
In the same piece, the journalists wrote this: “After being briefed on a devastating 17-state poll conducted by his campaign pollster, Tony Fabrizio, Mr. Trump told aides to deny that his internal polling showed him trailing Mr. Biden in many of the states he needs to win, even though he is also trailing in public polls from key states like Texas, Michigan and Pennsylvania. And when top-line details of the polling leaked, including numbers showing the president lagging in a cluster of critical Rust Belt states, Mr. Trump instructed aides to say publicly that other data showed him doing well.”
And here’s what happens with such reporting.
A short time later, liberal website Vox wrote a similar story, but didn’t bother with any attribution at all. “During campaign rallies since he’s become president, President Donald Trump has repeatedly dismissed polls that reflect poorly on him as somehow representing ‘suppression,’ or not including the 10 percent of people he thinks support him but refuse to say so publicly. But his denialism about bad polling now reportedly extends to polls conducted by his own campaign,” Vox wrote.