CNN and Election Disinformation

My friend and I sometimes argue about media outlets like CNN and MSNBC. Why do they spread misinformation?

A. Are they grossly uninformed?

B. Do they know the truth but tell falsehoods anyway?

C. Do they think we are stupid or naïve?

My buddy feels that the media outlets know the truth but lie about it.

To me, it is more complicated. The nice-looking journalists who read the teleprompters are genuinely ignorant. On the other hand, the news producers probably know the truth but spread misinformation anyway. Producers are the ones who select the topics, construct the programs, and hire the special analysts. Let’s consider this recent example.

CNN Misinformation -- A Case Study

Some time ago, Fani Willis, the Fulton County (GA) prosecutor, convened a special grand jury to investigate allegations that Trump tried to corruptly influence the Georgia Secretary of State to alter 2020 election results. Part of the grand jury report has been released. Let’s see how CNN described the results.

Around 6AM EST on February 17, CNN Anchor Kaitlan Collins made this statement: “And so clearly, [the grand jury report] shows you know, once and for all that... there was no election fraud here.”

The statement by Collins was misinformation because she left out critical information. A grand jury is a one-sided affair, and it hears only what the prosecutor lets it hear. Collins should have reminded her viewers of that fact. A grand jury decides absolutely nothing... “once and for all.”

If this statement came only from Kaitlan Collins, I would assume that the omission was unintentional. But similar words (and omissions) were repeated consistently throughout the day. To me, that suggests that CNN producers were deliberately spreading misinformation. Here is the CNN misinformation timeline:


time (EST)



Collins repeats her 6:00AM statement.


Katelyn Polantz (Justice Reporter) proclaims jury found “no widespread fraud in Georgia in 2020.”


Anchor Kim Brunhuber and Political Correspondent Sara Murray make similar statements. Brunhuber introduces Legal Commentator Areva Marin, who says, “[t]here is no doubt that there was no widespread voter fraud...”


The Brunhuber/Murray statements are replayed.


Anchor Max Foster claims the grand jury’s vote “should put to rest any questions” about fraud in the election.


Sara Murray’s statement is replayed by Anchor Christine Romans, who introduces attorney Dave Aronberg. He says the grand jury found that “...there was no widespread fraud in the election.”

All those experienced CNN anchors, lawyers, and analysts eagerly cited the grand jury findings, but not one mentioned that those findings are entirely based on the prosecutor’s evidence, as she chose to present it. CNN was spreading coordinated misinformation.

The Infamous Phone Call

Let’s move from the misleading nature of the statements to the actual substance of the statements. Is it true, in fact, that “...there was no widespread fraud in the election”? And, what about Trump’s telephone call? Were his demands illegal? What was the purpose of his call? Again, CNN was omitting important information.

Trump started by itemizing a long list of things he felt were fraudulent:

  • “250–300,000 ballots [that] were dropped mysteriously into the rolls.”
  • “A tremendous number” of people were told they had already voted.
  • “4,502 voters who voted... weren’t on the voter registration list.”
  • “You had 18,325 vacant address voters.”
  • “[Y]ou had 904 who only voted where they had just a P.O., a Post Office box number.”
  • “We had at least 18,000... having to do with Ruby Freeman. She’s a vote scammer, a professional vote scammer and hustler.”
  • “You had out-of-state voters... 4,925.”
  • “You had... absentee ballots sent to vacant addresses 2,326.”
  • “So dead people voted... the number is close to 5,000 people.”

CNN ignored that context, and simply reported this short quotation: “I just want to find 11,780 votes which is one more that we have because we won the state” (sic). Without the context, it appears that Trump was asking the Georgia Secretary to fabricate votes. With the context, it is obvious that Trump truly believed (correctly or not) that he had the winning votes -- in spades.

More Missing Context

It is apparent from the phone call transcript that Trump hoped that the Georgia Secretary of State would agree he was entitled to 11,780 more votes. However, he and his team made it very clear that they would settle for an information-sharing meeting. Brad Raffensperger refused. He effectively said, if you want to see our official data sources, meet us in court.

Cleta Mitchell, a Trump attorney who listened in on the phone call, addressed the information sharing issue during an interview with Natalie Harp (OAN News on January 23, 2022). Said Mitchell: “That phone call was for the purpose of trying to reach a settlement... We said, well, why don’t you bring your evidence and we’ll bring our evidence, and let’s see who is right. And we had been trying to get them to do that for a couple of weeks.”

A similar sentiment was expressed by Bryan Geels, a CPA who assisted the Trump legal team with regard to Georgia election issues. In February, 2022, Geels spoke at an event sponsored by (a Georgia nonprofit organization), and he discussed some of his election findings and the treatment he received from the Georgia Secretary of State. “Mr. Raffensperger... a quality auditor would not have been comfortable expressing any opinion affirming the results with so many unexplained irregularities in the data.”

  • There are “over 97,000 votes that I believe shouldn’t have been counted.”
  • “I flew out to Georgia to finally sit down with the Secretary of State and collaborate on the issues...”
  • “Instead of following through on his agreement to sit down with the president’s expert, Team Raffensperger leaked the phone call to the Washington Post. I am still left to wonder why.”

The meeting was scuttled by the leaking of that call, and since that time, the office of Brad Raffensperger has relentlessly fought every effort to gain access to information and/or ballots. Despite this, important evidence has been uncovered.

Evidence is found

In March 2022, issued a damning report on 15 categories of “impossible” and/or unsupported votes that are 45 times more numerous than Biden’s winning margin. All the 15 items are discussed in a March 2022 video presentation. I wonder if the grand jury -- the one that decided “there was no widespread fraud in the election” -- was given that information by District Attorney Fani Willis.


Evidence suggests that...

  1. CNN spread coordinated misinformation concerning the grand jury findings.
  2. CNN misled by not providing context regarding Trump’s statement requesting 11,780 votes.
  3. Access to information has been restricted by the Georgia Secretary of State.
  4. Very serious election irregularities have been found in Georgia.

Joe Fried is an Ohio-based CPA who has performed and reviewed hundreds of certified financial audits. He is the author of the new book, Debunked? An auditor reviews the 2020 election -- and the lessons learned (Republic Book Publishers, 2022). It explains why the certifications of six swing state elections were premature.

Image: CNN

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