Society

CNN Producer Says Russia Story About Ratings

| by Jordan Smith
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and President Donald TrumpRussian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and President Donald Trump

A CNN producer said the network's frequent coverage of President Donald Trump's alleged ties to Russia is about ratings.

Health supervising producer John Bonifield called into question the factual basis for the claims of Russian meddling in the U.S. election, stating that it was “mostly bulls***," according to Real Clear Politics.

Bonifield added that the Russia story was "good for business."

"I haven't seen any good enough evidence to show that the president committed a crime," he added. "I just feel like they don't really have it but they want to keep digging. And so I think the president is probably right to say, like, look you are witch hunting me. You have no smoking gun, you have no real proof."

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Bonifeld's comments were made public the day after CNN investigations editor Lex Haris resigned from the network along with two other journalists, Eric Lichtblau and Thomas Frank. The resignations were prompted by a story published then retracted by CNN alleging ties between a member of Trump's transition team and Russia.

The CNN story was based on one anonymous source, and when challenged on its content, CNN acknowledged it could not stand by the piece. CNN officially retracted the story June 23 and issued a formal apology to Anthony Scaramucci, the subject of the story.

"Wow, CNN had to retract big story on 'Russia,' with three employees forced to resign," Trump tweeted June 27, The Washington Post reported. "What about all the other phony stories they do? FAKE NEWS!"

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In the video released by Real Clear Politics, Bonifield said CNN and other media organizations operate as businesses.

"It's a business, people are like the media has an ethical phssssss .. 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 a business," Bonifield said, according to Real Clear Politics.

Bonifield also had an opinion on CNN CEO Jeff Zucker.

"Just to give you some context, President Trump pulled out of the climate accords and for a day and a half we covered the climate accords," Bonifield added. "And the CEO of CNN [Jeff Zucker] said in our internal meeting, he said good job everybody covering the climate accords, but we're done with that, let's get back to Russia."

CNN defended Bonifield in a statement.

"CNN stands by our medical producer John Bonifield," a spokesman told the Daily Beast. "Diversity of personal opinion is what makes CNN strong, we welcome it and embrace it."

Sources: Real Clear Politics, The Washington Post, Daily Beast / Photo credit: The White House/Wikimedia Commons, Lorie Shaull/Wikimedia Commons, Russian Presidential and Press Information Office/Wikimedia Commons

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