Three CNN employees have handed in their resignations over a retracted story linking President Trump to Russia, the network announced Monday.
The article was removed from CNN.com on Friday after the network decided it could no longer stand by its reporting.
“In the aftermath of the retraction of a story published on CNN.com, CNN has accepted the resignation of the employees involved in the story’s publication,” a network spokesperson told TheWrap in a statement.
On Thursday, CNN investigative reporter Thomas Frank published a story involving an investigation into a Russian investment fund with possible ties to several Trump associates.
According to the network, an internal investigation found that “some standard editorial processes were not followed when the article was published.”
Citing a single unnamed source, the story reported that Congress was investigating a “Russian investment fund with ties to Trump officials.”
The story, which only appeared on the network’s site, was quickly disputed on Friday, as one Trump ally Anthony Scaramucci — who was mentioned in the story — pushed back on Frank’s reporting, insisting he “did nothing wrong.”
“Once it was determined that editorial processes were not followed, CNN deleted the story from CNN.com,” the network said Friday on its site. “Soon thereafter, the story was officially retracted and replaced with an editor’s note.”
The piece “did not meet CNN’s editorial standards and has been retracted,” the note said. “Links to the story have been disabled.”
CNN blamed the mistake on a “breakdown in editorial workflow,” explaining that that “these types of stories” did not go through the usual departments such as fact-checkers, journalism standards experts and lawyers.
The gaffe cost three employees their jobs: Frank, who wrote the story, Eric Lichtblau, a unit editor, and the person in charge of the unit, Lex Haris.
The network’s investigative unit was told during a meeting on Monday that the retraction did not necessarily mean the facts of the story were wrong. But, rather, “the story wasn’t solid enough to publish as-is,” according CNN.com.
Haris, Lichtblau and Frank had solid reputations among their colleagues.
Frank worked as reporter for USA Today and Newsday before joining CNN. Lichtblau is a former New York Times Pulitzer-Prize winning reporter. And Haris was a former executive editor of CNNMoney.
“On Friday, CNN retracted a story published by my team. As Executive Editor of that team, I have resigned,” Haris said in a statement. “I’ve been with CNN since 2001, and am sure about one thing: This is a news organization that prizes accuracy and fairness above all else. I am leaving, but will carry those principles wherever I go.”