CNN’s Jim “Divine Windbag” Sciutto has plunged the network into a journalistic Kamikaze explosion worse—much worse—than the immensely flawed 1998 Tailwind fiasco.
That awful bungle 21-years-ago led to the firings of producers April Oliver and Jack Smith, the resignation of senior producer Pamela Hill, and the only-slightly-gentler departure of Pulitzer Prize-winner and 18-year-veteran Peter Arnett. The team simply did not let the facts get in the way of a good story, which claimed the U.S. government secretly used nerve gas in Laos in an attempt to kill American turncoats during the Vietnam War.
None of it was true, and the resulting detonation left a large, smoking crater where CNN’s credibility had been. The scandal left the network’s face covered with so much egg, mud, and bits of shattered hubris, that it took years to recover.
CNN’s president at the time, Tom Johnson, was an actual newspaperman who would not put up with that kind of horrific, shoddy journalism and duly fired the perps.
This time CNN got the story so wrong that both the Washington Post and the New York Times immediately trashed Sciutto’s reportage, which claimed the CIA pulled a mole out of the Kremlin in 2017 because President Trump “repeatedly mishandled classified intelligence and could contribute to exposing the covert source as a spy.”
Worse yet, CNN put the life of a brave CIA operative in danger, chalking it up to plain old journalistic “collateral damage.” Sciutto botched the story so badly that even the CIA made a rare public statement, calling his reporting “misguided” and “simply false.”
Which, turns out, it was. As both the Times and the Post reported, the CIA had been trying to “exfiltrate” their asset from Moscow well before the November 2016 presidential election. Trump had nothing to do with it.
Unfortunately, Tom Johnson retired in 2001. CNN is now lead by Jeff Zucker, a former “Today Show” cookie-pusher and fired NBC chief who has the news instincts of a zombie on lithium. So nothing will happen. Nothing.
This is especially difficult for me to take, as I was, long ago, CNN’s first Special Assignments Correspondent and one of its first reporters of Italian-American extraction.
It’s one thing to watch a politically connected fop like Chris “Fredo” Cuomo, who, were it not for his family name might only be seen today on reruns of “Jersey Shore,” as his Shelter Island rant demonstrated.
It’s a completely different kind of insult to have another Italian-American CNN correspondent like Jim Sciutto foul up so badly. I am ashamed of what my once-proud network has become: A televised zoo of raging, inept loonies second only to the characters on its sister operation, the Cartoon Network.
There can be only a couple of reasons why Sciutto, the former Obama ambassadorial “helper-outer guy” (he was chief of staff to U.S. ambassador to China Gary Locke before he joined CNN in 2013) could completely blow the story: Either his Yalie ego prompted him to just wing it on an “iffy” single-source who handed him a load of crap, and then crashed and burned for failing to double and then triple-check a freaking CIA story . . . or he was assisted in his flaming, noxious journalistic suicide by his boss, Jeff Zucker.
On a story as big as this one, there is no way Zucker didn’t sign off before it went to air.
Remember, Zucker is a showman, not a newsman. He is demonstrably clueless about the credibility of a news operation.
As with his decision to hire cashiered G-Man Andrew McCabe, Zucker, like a true chief kamikaze, seems to be mesmerized by the idea of having his boys nosedive headlong into a carrier . . . especially one shaped like Melania’s husband, the U.S.S. Orange Man Bad.
Appropriately, on Friday the 13th, reports surfaced that more than one CNN on-air personality was unhappy with the McCabe hire and anonymously made their feelings known . . . to Fox News!
After all, even some Japanese pilots managed to talk their way out of a one-way trip to the Yasukuni shrine.
Unfortunately for Banzai “Mother” Zucker, and more so for the hapless, and now no-longer-credible “Divine Windbag” Sciutto, CNN just keeps missing.