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The day after being called “fake news” by President-elect Donald Trump during a press conference, CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, along with colleagues Jake Tapper, Jim Sciutto, and Jim Acosta, returned fire with a strong defense of the network’s bombshell report Tuesday.

The report said Trump and President Obama were briefed on allegations that Russian operatives claim to have compromising personal and financial information about Trump. On Tuesday night, Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway, on “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” claimed Trump had not been made aware of the allegations. On Wednesday, she and Cooper engaged in a heated discussion.


The first 15 minutes of Thursday’s “AC360” show suggested CNN has no plans to back down from its reporting or from Trump. Cooper accused Conway of being “misleading on two points” and made it clear that CNN’s reporting was completely separate from BuzzFeed’s publishing of the damaging but unverified dossier allegedly prepared by a former British spy.

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Cooper played a clip of Conway saying CNN’s reporters should pay a steep price if their reports turned out to be false. Cooper then issued this statement: “Given what’s happened today… it seems like that’s a better question for her. I agree with Kellyanne Conway. If we were wrong, we would admit it. But we were not wrong. She was. The question is, will she hold herself and her team to the same standard?”

A statement released by James Clapper, the U.S. Director of National Intelligence, seemed to back up CNN’s reporting that he met with Trump on this issue. Comments by Vice President Joe Biden also bolstered CNN’s position.

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Acosta, the CNN reporter who tried multiple times to ask Trump a question only to be rebuffed and told by Trump he would not get to because CNN is “fake news,” offered this:

“There’s something worse than fake news, and that’s the denial of real news… They’re just not in command of the facts. This has been a pattern for the Trump campaign and now the Trump transition where they don’t like the news that’s being reported and they go after the messenger.”

Tapper reiterated Acosta’s point: “This has been the modus operandi for President-elect Trump and his team, to say what they believe to be true even if it is disputed by facts, and then stick with it… It’s a fact-free campaign.”

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