CNN Under Fire Over Statements By Producer Calling Collusion Coverage “Bulls**t” and Retraction of Russian Investigation Story [UPDATED]

I recently ran a column on my concern over the coverage of the Russian investigation and underling legal issues.  While I supported the appointment of the Special Counsel and the investigation into possible obstruction of justice after the firing of James Comey, I have objected to what I see as biased and at times unhinged legal coverage of the underlying allegations.  There has obviously been such bias on both sides as people turn to news sources that offer an echo chamber for their political views.  This week, however, CNN has been under close scrutiny after it retracted a major story on the Russian investigation and three of its top journalists were let go, including respected Pulitzer prize winner Eric Lichtblau.    If that were not bad enough, a conservative filmmaker posted a videotape of CNN Producer John Bonifield talking freely about how the collusion story is nothing by “bulls**t” and how CNN was pushing the story purely for the “ratings.” [UPDATE: O’Keefe has released a new video of CNN host Van Jones saying that the Russian story is a “nothing burger.”]

Conservative Project Veritas has released a video from a hidden camera of CNN Producer John Bonifield who proceeded to dismiss the collusion story as “mostly bullshit right now. Like, we don’t have any giant proof.” He then seems to confirm precisely what critics has been alleging in saying that “it’s a business” and “Trump  is good for business right now.”  He further is shown dismissing the ethical concerns: “Its a business . . . all the nice cutesy little ethics that used to get talked about in journalism school you’re just like, that’s adorable. That’s adorable.  This is business.”   H further said that CNN President Jeff Zucker told them to get off subjects like global change in favor of hammering Trump.  He even says that Trump is “probably right” in calling it a witch hunt.

CNN has dismissed the videotape as merely an example of the difference of opinion among its staff even though this producer in the investigative unit is accusing CNN of knowingly exaggerating the evidence for pure rating.

Here is the videotape:


The controversy over the videotape occurred in the same week that three CNN employees resigned over a retracted story linking President Trump to Russia.  CNN investigative reporter Thomas Frank published a story involving an investigation into a Russian investment fund with possible ties to several Trump associates.  The story involved Trump ally Anthony Scaramucci and an internal investigation found that “some standard editorial processes were not followed when the article was published.”

I have long respected Lichtblau and it was a high price to pay as he, Frank, and Lex Harris resigned under a cloud.  CNN did the right thing in ordering the investigation and the removal of the three journalists was a demonstration of its commitment to the ethical principles raised by the story.  Nevertheless, President Trump went on twitter to taunt CNN and denounce its staff.  

On Tuesday, he tweeted  “Wow, CNN had to retract big story on ‘Russia,’ with 3 employees forced to resign. What about all the other phony stories they do? FAKE NEWS!” He later added “Fake News CNN is looking at big management changes now that they got caught falsely pushing their phony Russian stories. Ratings way down!”  He then stated further  “So they caught Fake News CNN cold, but what about NBC, CBS & ABC? What about the failing @nytimes & @washingtonpost? They are all Fake News!”

I found the tweets to be again over the top and unfair in light of the action taken by CNN.  Lichtblau has spent his career as one of the best journalists in the world and was just effectively terminated.

Nevertheless, these stories do raise serious questions over the bias in coverage and the economic incentives to not only pursue the collusion stories but to exaggerate the level of the evidence or the underlying law material to those allegations.



61 thoughts on “CNN Under Fire Over Statements By Producer Calling Collusion Coverage “Bulls**t” and Retraction of Russian Investigation Story [UPDATED]”

  1. First we get an outed leaker recipient from the State Departments Immigtration program now Dr. Susan Rice a woman with a PhD plays ghetto games with the language. If you read todays comment on her voluntarily heading to testify under oath and recall my comments on who was going to be the first to go States’s Eveidence…..check the wording that will keep

    “I didn’t say nothing to nobody.” Double negative for all but current generations of illiterates in a language which has no double negatives translates to ‘If you didn’t say nothing to nobody you must have said something to sombody.” So either Rice is a PhD that is illiterate or she chose those words carefully. and therefore waqs not fibbing in previous comments where those words were used.

    Which is it?

    These days who knows?

    Is it possible to get a Doctor of Philosophy specializing in the areas she worked with a social promotion?

    I’m sure the dreaded ‘some’ will claim yes and no big deal. But listen for the question mark at the end of th sentences. California education or was the statement really a question?

    1. Lots of behind closed doors testifying going on. Bowling for immunity. Whose gonna get it?

  2. CNN stepped up and took responsibility. If only the White House and Pravda, er I mean Faux News would conduct themselves similarly.

    1. Mark M – CNN was threatened with a $100 million law suit before they came to their senses. Even then, the reporters are being paid to the end of their contract (whenever that is). CNN is scared about the AT&T take-over.

    2. No link to alleged FNN equivalent to CNN’s lies means you just posted a big fake comment, AKA lie. BTW, you also have no FNN equivalent of a paid news person giving debate Qs to a POTUS candidate, then lying about it afterward, exactly what DNC operative Donna Brazile did while working for CNN, for which act CNN had to also fire her.

      Only a Progressive like you would deny the obvious, that MSM is a working operative of the DNC.

      Prior to publishing, one MSM reporter (IIRC either CNN or MSNBC) actually emailed his HRC article to Podesta at the DNC (Podesta IIRC) for their editing/approval. Got any similar examples from FNN?


  3. I understand that the network has a financial incentive to increase ratings, but what financial incentive did these three fired journalists have to do such a reprehensible job? In the current age of digital media, why can’t we just have sites that publish the actual evidence and leave out any “reporting?” Give us the video, audio, paper trail and let us decide what it means. Time consuming, yes, but then at least we’d all be working from the same universe of facts.

    1. I wish the world worked this way, on paper it sounds great but in reality its impossible. The person who has the money decides what facts they would want to present or hide. All statistics have some sort of bias in them no matter what because someone has to pay the employees and all expenses.

  4. I enjoy the accountability finally raising it’s hand up and stopping this ridiculous abuse of journalism. I love O’Keefe like a son and would probably be jealous had he been a lefty bustem” journalist. However, isn’t this guy on the tape, a Health editor? just voicing his opinion?

    1. That’s a pathetic defense. Are you positing CNN’s senior Health editor knows not of what he spoke? Do you posit his paraphrase of his CEO/DNC operative Jeff Zucker is a lie, or false, or misrepresentation in any way, slightly inaccurate?

      If yes, please post your evidence for your “opinion.” Till proven otherwise, readers should presume CNN’s senior “Health” editor accurately represents his workplace and their motives. Money, money, money.

      I double, triple dare any Progressive reader to post equivalent video to the one which caused FNN to fire alternative lifestyle Judge Napolitano. Google “Fox fired Napolitano for this video” or similar. The Judge absolutely nailed it, siting law after Federal law Neocons constantly violated (including Neocons Bush and Obama) for their alleged “war on terrorism,” the same points Turley has made over and over again.

      An “equivalent video” is a MSM news outlet (not FNN) video in which a highly respected, unimpeachable, independent commenter of the highest stature, gives a bare knuckled, totally honest assessment (negative) of a DNC POTUS (present or past), siting their obviously violation of Federal law. No such video exists, because it would never happen.

      To Foxe’s everlasting shame, they fired The Judge shortly after his speech, for obviously offending their neocon base. God bless the Judge for putting his financial neck on the blade for righteousness’ sake.

  5. I have zero sympathy for journalists who get fired because they let their political obsession with Trump drive them to slander one of his associates.

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