CNN’s Alisyn Camerota served up some journalistic trash to the brother of an American detained in Russia on spy charges.
The CNN anchor grilled David Whelan about his twin brother Paul’s social media posts during an interview Wednesday in a discussion that was supposed to be about the former Marine’s arrest in Russia for alleged espionage.
The brother of the 48-year-old former law-enforcement officer told Camerota that the family was extremely concerned for his safety and that he was in the country for a wedding. Whelan’s family only heard about the arrest from news reports and had not heard from him since the day he was apparently detained by Russian authorities, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The Michigan businessman was arrested Dec. 28 while “carrying out spying activities,” according to Russia’s security agency, the FSB. Whelan’s family has denied any espionage allegations and the U.S. State Department has demanded that Russia release him.
With potentially made-up charges by Russia, possibly in retaliation for U.S. charges against alleged Russian spy Maria Butina, and a family in anguish over Whelan’s safety, CNN chose to focus on the real pressing issue of why an American citizen would call them “fake news.”
“There are some strange elements of your brother’s story,” Camerota said to David Whelan, citing a social media post with the caption, “Just drinking coffee and watching fake news.”
“Now, I’m not taking this personally that he’s pictured with CNN, but I just am wondering is this a statement on his part, somehow?” she asked her puzzled guest.
“I don’t know what’s on his page,” Whelan replied “I don’t follow him on social media other than Twitter, which is where I am. I don’t know what he was intending by those photos.”
“What did he tell you,” Camerota pressed, asking why Whelan would even have a social media account in Russia.
His brother speculated that he had maintained friendships with people he had met traveling and during his time as a Marine, saying simply that Whelan likely had the Russian social media account just to be able to stay in contact with other friends who also used the platform.
U.S. Ambassador to Russia, Jon Huntsman, was able to visit Whelan at the Lefortovo Detention Facility on Wednesday, USA Today reported. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo indicated that the U.S. would be demanding Whelan’s release after determining the veracity of the charges.
“We’ve made clear to the Russians our expectation that we will learn more about the charges, come to understand what it is he’s been accused of, and if the detention is not appropriate we will demand his immediate return,” Pompeo told reporters while in Brazil.
If convicted, Whelan could face up to 20 years in Russian prison.
Camerota’s shameful questioning of Whelan’s anti-CNN post earned her a heavy dose of backlash on Twitter.
How shallow can you be?
Being detained in a foreign country is not an easy road. @CNN “its all about us”
— We NEED Voter ID ⭐⭐⭐ (@_catethegreat_) January 3, 2019
The best thing about Alisyn Camerota is she is consistently awful
— Jena (@JennaJacobsen5) January 3, 2019
— Say my name (@ratkat1973) January 3, 2019
How is his attitude any part of this story?
Way to keep yourself as the focus of the news @cnn
— Fed Up Guy (@GuyFedup) January 3, 2019
The severe cultural pettiness of CNN forced her to spend half her interview asking about his political views
— Leonidas (@Tweetqualizer_) January 3, 2019
— bababoey 2007 (@jarhead006) January 3, 2019
“I’m not taking this personally…” Yeah right
— The dude (@Sharky180) January 3, 2019
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