CNN anchor Anderson Cooper and Donald Trump’s senior adviser, Kellyanne Conway, had an epic showdown Wednesday night over charges that the president-elect’s team was conflating the network’s reporting on Trump with an unsubstantiated document published by BuzzFeed.
CNN reported on Tuesday that both Trump and President Obama were briefed on allegations that Trump’s personal and financial information was “compromised” by the Russians. Many of the claims were detailed in a memo drafted by a British former intelligence official, and BuzzFeed decided to publish the memo in full despite the veracity of many of the claims being unknown or disputed.
Conway said CNN’s report was inaccurate, and suggested that the network was just as culpable as BuzzFeed because it reported on the allegations before BuzzFeed published the document. She also repeatedly claimed, falsely, that CNN linked to BuzzFeed’s story on the memo. CNN correspondent Jim Sciutto fact-checked Conway in real-time during the interview.
“CNN is not BuzzFeed—I just wish you guys would acknowledge and just be straightforward,” an exasperated Cooper said. “I get why politically it makes sense for you to link CNN with what BuzzFeed did.”
Cooper added that he shares Conway’s anger about BuzzFeed’s decision to publish the entire document, and urged her to not conflate CNN’s reporting with what BuzzFeed did. Conway then bemoaned the state of journalism in the U.S., saying we are at an “inflection point” as a country when it comes to journalistic standards and ethics.
“The fact is that the media have a 16 percent approval rating for a reason. It's been earned,” Conway retorted. “And it’s crap like this that really undergirds why Donald Trump won. In fact, you're doing him a favor again. This was an anti-elitist election. It was rejection of everybody who thinks they know better than people.”