Amid backlash and complaints about the network's journalistic practices, CNN announced on Monday that three of its employees resigned over a retracted story regarding President Donald Trump's alleged connections to Russia.
The three employees — Thomas Frank, Eric Lichtblau, and Lex Haris — left CNN after an internal investigation revealed that some editorial guidelines weren't followed. The story, which cited only one anonymous source, claimed congressional investigators were looking into a “Russian investment fund with ties to Trump officials.”
The story's retraction didn't necessarily indicate that its facts were wrong, but that it wasn't “solid enough to publish,” CNN Money reported.
CNN Money reporter Brian Stelter detailed the events leading up to the resignations:
These types of stories are typically reviewed by several departments within CNN — including fact-checkers, journalism standards experts and lawyers — before publication.
This breakdown in editorial workflow disturbed the CNN executives who learned about it.
In a staff meeting Monday afternoon, investigative unit members were told that the retraction did not mean the facts of the story were necessarily wrong. Rather, it meant that “the story wasn't solid enough to publish as-is,” one of the people briefed on the investigation said.
The reporting about the Russian investment fund and Trump officials was not relayed on CNN's television channels, but it was published on the web and shared on social media.
“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 CNN spokesman said.
Lichtblau, an editor, previously worked at The New York Times and won a Pulitzer Prize in 2006.
The president frequently refers to CNN as “fake news” and, as Independent Journal Review wrote, the network made four major retractions just in the month of June.