CNN is taking an increasingly negative approach toward its coverage of President-elect Trump, causing at least some tension within the network, inside sources told the Washington Examiner.
Trump, according to a New York Post story, told the network he wasn't happy with their coverage during an off-the-record meeting at his headquarters in Trump Tower this week. Trump critiqued the news media at large during the meeting, but CNN was one of the top targets, according to the Post's report.
Though Trump's team has said the meeting wasn't as tense as the Post's report, two high-level sources at CNN confirmed that their network was a primary target of the president-elect.
"CNN has always pledged to hold Trump accountable and that's what we should be doing," another source told the Examiner. "Since the election, CNN has out MSNBCed MSNBC," the source said, referring to the liberal slant at CNN's competitor. "In the long term, that's a dangerous place to be."
Like any credible news outlet, CNN is expected to scrutinize Trump and his incoming administration. But some inside the network have pointed to recent examples of what they considered to be an excessively hostile stance toward the Republican and his supporters.
During an interview with the New York Times on Tuesday, Trump was asked about his supporters in the so-called "alt-right," a loosely defined nationalist movement in which there is some support for the white supremacy movement.
"I condemn them. I disavow, and I condemn," Trump told the Times during the meeting. He also said he did not want to "energize" them.
But on Tuesday, CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer asked Republican National Committee spokesman Sean Spicer why Trump hasn't disavowed them "more dramatically."
In addition, some of the on-air exchanges with paid CNN contributors who support Trump have left some personnel there feeling uncomfortable.
On Tuesday, CNN contributor and Trump supporter John Philips was positioned opposite Democratic strategist Tharon Johnson to discuss a gathering last weekend of about 200 white supremacists in Washington, D.C., during which they were seen on video saying "Hail Trump."
Philips said in the exchange that the group was a "fringe" segment of Trump's overall support and that it was "unfair" to tie the president-elect to it.
CNN's official account posted the video of the exchange on Twitter, and summarized it as, "Tharon Johnson tells John Philips it's 'insulting' that he is trying to delegitimize and normalize [the] alt-right."
Like other news outlets, CNN has a rule against its on-air talent and contributors publicly disparaging each other or doing anything that might be perceived that way on social media.
But on Wednesday, after a segment featuring Trump supporter and CNN contributor Scottie Nell Hughes and Democrat Christine Quinn, CNN "New Day" anchor Chris Cuomo shared a tweet from a follower.
It said: "Quinn ate Hugh's LUNCH for breakfast on 'New Day'! Glad Cuomo jumped in to seal the deal…"
And earlier this month, CNN shared a video clip on its Facebook account of a heated back-and-forth between paid contributors Kayleigh McEnany, a Trump backer, and Van Jones, a former Obama administration official.
CNN's headline on the video said "Van Jones rebukes trump supporter in clash over internment camp rumors."
The Facebook account for CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360" also shared the video, highlighting it with a caption that quoted Jones saying, "I am disappointed in you now."
Another source at CNN said they felt "certain targeting of certain people" and that "this kind of targeting isn't fair by their own employer."
A spokesperson for CNN did not respond to a request for comment.