Still desperate to discredit and dismiss WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange after the organization published thousands of embarrassing and politically damaging documents for Democrats during the 2016 election cycle, CNN has now entered the realm of being borderline defamatory and libelous toward him.
The New York Daily News reported that CNN has issued an apology and taken down a video link after WikiLeaks threatened to sue the network for defamation.
Phil Mudd, a counterterrorism expert and paid CNN contributor, accused Assange of being a “pedophile,” while speaking live on CNN’s “New Day”: “I think there’s an effort to protect WikiLeaks (and) a pedophile who lives in the Ecuadorian embassy in London — this guy is not credible.”
WikiLeaks responded almost immediately with a tweet that read: “We have issued instructions to sue CNN for defamation,” followed by “Unless within 48h they air a one hour expose of the plot.”
We have issued instructions to sue CNN for defamation:https://t.co/YLfyQ9ROCy
Unless within 48h they air a one hour expose of the plot.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) January 4, 2017
CNN in turn responded by quickly taking down the video clip of Mudd making the accusation and issued a sort of apology in a prepared statement.
“An analyst on our air earlier today asserted that Julian Assange was a pedophile, and regrets saying it,” read the statement. “In fact, CNN has no evidence to support that assertion.”
“Assange is currently wanted for extradition to Sweden to face sexual assault allegations there, and no evidence suggests that the women involved were minors. We regret the error,” the statement concluded.
We’ve deleted a tweet that included a video clip from New Day earlier this morning. Here’s our statement: pic.twitter.com/qJqTtzy69T
— New Day (@NewDay) January 4, 2017
McClatchyDC also reported on the apology and withdrawal of the accusation, though their report seemed to indicate that the pedophilia accusation had nothing to do with allegations Assange faces in Sweden, but rather stem from an apparently debunked conspiracy theory that originated with a shady Houston, Texas-based dating site that worked hard to discredit Assange and WikiLeaks during the election season.
That story was ultimately deemed to be “fake news,” which makes one wonder why CNN would post a link to a video of a contributor alluding to it, considering how utterly outraged they have been about exactly the same sort of “fake news” over the past couple of months.
Nevertheless they ran with the fake news and were immediately challenged for it. At least they retracted the story and issued an apology, though the threat of a defamation lawsuit most likely served as the impetus for that embarrassing move on their part.
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