Commenting on the scandal around CNN’s Trump and Russia coverage, former CIA analyst and whistleblower John Kiriakou says that sensationalism in the media is not likely to go away.
Kiriakou, who retired from the CIA in 2004 and was the first former US official to admit waterboarding had been used to interrogate Al-Qaeda prisoners, is a founding member of the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. Speaking to RT, Kiriakou said that CNN and other mainstream media outlets were putting out stories about Russia and the Trump administration based on very dubious evidence.
“I think CNN, frankly, is going to have to explain itself,” he said. “What we have is the FBI and the CIA and members of Congress essentially telling us to just take their word for it. We can’t take their word for it, we need some evidence. And apparently even CNN has not received any evidence.”
The reason for this apparent sloppiness, according to Kiriakou, is a need to boost viewer ratings, which in turn increases advertising revenue.
“The dirty little secret of the American media is that it’s all corporatist, it’s all owned by gigantic companies and all they care about is the financial bottom line.
“They have to be more and more explosive in their stories, and sometimes the truth gets lost in those stories.”
While admitting that James O’Keefe, the activist behind Project Veritas which uncovered the scandal, “is a very controversial figure,” Kiriakou added that “if the information is true, the American people have the right to know it.”
“So many of us in the former intelligence community – I’m talking about my colleagues in the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity – have been saying both in television and radio interviews and in writing, that we’re just not seeing any evidence of collusion between President Trump and the Russian government or Russian hackers or any Russians at all.”
The investigation into the Trump administration’s alleged links to Russia is being overseen by former FBI Director Robert Mueller. While Kiriakou is confident that Mueller will uncover some corruption in the president’s close circle, he doubts it will find any explosive material about his supposed ties to the Kremlin.
“I think that by the time Director Mueller’s investigation is done, multiple people will probably be facing felony charges, but I’m going to say that none of those felony charges will have anything to do with Russia. I think we’re going to see things like obstruction of justice, making a false statement, perhaps perjury, throwaway charges. But I’m just not seeing any evidence of Russian involvement.”
But this may not be enough to hold back the wave of conspiracy theories and speculation around Trump’s alleged ties to Russia, he added.
“There’s this drumbeat, here in Washington, that the only way to ruin President Trump is to tie him to the Russians. And I think that the mainstream media, with the exception of Fox News, has latched onto that, and I think many, many Democrats on Capitol Hill have also done the same.”
On Tuesday, Project Veritas released footage of CNN producer John Bonifield’s admission that the organization’s anti-Russia reporting is purely for ratings.
This week, three CNN journalists resigned following the retraction of a story published on their website which investigated a “Russian investment fund with ties to Trump officials.” CNN claims the initial publication of the article was due to a “breakdown in editorial workflow.”