Why CNN And The Wall St. Journal Released Information The White House Said Was Dangerous

There are many layers to the latest story out of the White House.

The White House told CNN and The Wall Street Journal that divulging certain information related to a breaking news story could "get people killed," so, at first, they didn't do it.

But days later, they were able to tell their story — or at least part of it. Why? Because the President of the United States divulged that very same information to two Russian diplomats in a controversial meeting reported on by The Washington Post.

Monday evening, the story broke that President Trump had divulged information about an ISIS threat to the Russian diplomats that some of America's closest allies were unaware of. The situation was so dire that Homeland Security Advisor Thomas Bossert reached out to the CIA and NSA to do damage control, according to The Washington Post. Through various media outlets, Israeli officials — who say Israel provided the intel — described the situation as their "worst nightmare."

But Tuesday afternoon, The Wall Street Journal and CNN added another layer to the story. During his segment on The Lead, CNN news anchor Jake Tapper said, in March, his network has learned from numerous officials that ISIS had developed laptop computer bombs that could avoid detection and be used on international flights. Before reporting the story, the reporter — Evan Perez — reached out to the White House. 

"Officials cautioned Perez and CNN executives to not divulge details — including the city where the intel was coming from," Tapper said. "By reporting the city's name, Trump administration officials insisted, that would tip off American adversaries about sources and methods used to gather the intelligence. It would, they insisted, 'get people killed.'" 

CNN did not report the details of the story or name the city. But in The Post's report on Trump, the president allegedly did just that — he named the city. 

The Wall Street Journal, in a report that was published on Tuesday, told a similar story about avoiding certain details at the White House's request. 

"The Journal refrained from identifying Israel as the source of the intelligence," Shane Harris and Carol E. Lee wrote. "Trump administration officials said disclosing it could damage the two countries' intelligence relationship and jeopardize operations. The Journal decided to name Israel once the country's name was widely disseminated after reports by the New York Times and others Tuesday afternoon."

As Tapper pointed out, National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster seemed to change his tune at the podium Tuesday, claiming the city and source of the intelligence was "nothing that you would not know from open source reporting."

"This is the same city intelligence officials said if we told it you right now it would get people killed," Tapper said. "But somehow we are simultaneously supposed to believe that President Trump sharing this information — the city and more — with a U.S. adversary, Russia, is quote 'wholly appropriate.'"

In the wake of this news, The New York Times released another earth-shattering report that President Trump had asked former FBI director James Comey to let the investigation into Mike Flynn go, according to a memo read by an FBI agent to a Times reporter. 

It's yet another reminder that the press's power comes with great responsibility — and that, by and large, they take this seriously.