An embattled CNN suffered another embarrassment Friday when President Donald Trump pressed Russian President Vladimir Putin on the topic of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections during a high-stakes meeting.
Throughout the week leading up to the two presidents' first in-person meeting following Trump's inauguration, CNN cited anonymous administration sources who speculated that Trump would not discuss election interference with Putin at all. The news channel put up with banners daily claiming, "Sources: Trump won't bring up election with Putin," "WH sources: Trump unlikely to talk meddling with Putin" and "Admin. official: Trump may not talk Russian hacking."
The anonymous sources' warnings were displayed all over the network and its website as anchors and guests discussed the implications behind Trump's speculated avoidance of the topic.
"CNN all week: An anonymous source says Trump won't confront Putin about Russia meddling in the election!" Matt Wolking, press secretary for Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), tweeted Friday night, including screenshots of the banners CNN blazed across its network all throughout the week.
Wolking then pointed to a Friday tweet from CNN saying, "JUST IN: Trump began meeting with Putin by raising concerns on 2016 election meddling, Sec. of State [Rex] Tillerson says."
The screenshot CNN included with its tweet held a banner saying, "Tillerson: Trump pressed Putin on Russian meddling."
"The two leaders agreed that this is a substantial hindrance on the ability of us to move Russian-U.S. relationships forward and agreed to exchange further work ?regarding commitments of noninterference in the affairs of the United States and our democratic process as well as those of other countries," Tillerson said in an audio-only press briefing Friday. "So more work to be done in that regard."
Tillerson emphasized that Trump "pressed" Putin on the election interference "on more than one occasion" and raised "the concerns of the American people regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election."
Putin denied engaging in election interference, as he has for months.
But after days of feverishly reporting that an obsequious Trump would back down from a confrontation with Putin, CNN found itself proven quite wrong.
"At what point does the network ask: 'Maybe, just maybe, these unnamed WH sources are motivated to lie to advance the desired narrative?'" Joe Concha, a media reporter and columnist for The Hill, tweeted Saturday in response to Wolking's observation.
With the Democrats and the media hyper-focused on anything to do with Putin and other Russian officials, speculation over what would occur during Trump's highly anticipated first in-person meeting with the Russian president at a G-20 event in Hamburg, Germany, dominated the major networks' coverage.
But when it turned out that Trump actually did confront Putin over the election meddling during the course of their 2-hour meeting, CNN added another embarrassment to the others it has accrued over the last few weeks.
In June, CNN dismissed three of its employees after the network had to retract a fraudulent story that linked Trump adviser Anthony Scaramucci to a Russian investment fund. When Trump tweeted a WWE gif of himself pummeling "CNN" to the ground on July 2, the network went to great investigative lengths to discover who the anonymous Reddit user was who created the gif in the first place. But in its article published last week, the editors included this controversial line: "CNN reserves the right to publish his identity should any of that change."
The poorly phrased line drew bipartisan criticism against CNN as many claimed the network appeared to be blackmailing the annoys Reddit user. CNN stood by its story, but social media users continued to mock the network by creating or posting new gifs of Trump pummeling "CNN" in one way or another.