BuzzFeed CEO stands behind publication of unverified dossier even as CNN throws them under the bus

posted at 5:01 pm on January 11, 2017 by John Sexton

Ed noted this in an update earlier, but I wanted to highlight it a bit more. BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti sent a memo to staff saying he was standing behind Editor Ben Smith in the publication of an unverified dossier of material about President-elect Donald Trump. Business Insider’s Oliver Darcy published the memo on Twitter:

“We stand with Ben on his decision to publish this newsworthy document, which was reported on by multiple news outlets and seen by high level government officials including the president and president-elect,” the memo reads. Actually, it’s not clear that’s true. As Allahpundit noted, NBC News is reporting that the briefing was done orally, i.e. no documents were given to the President-elect.

In the next paragraph, Peretti emphasizes that BuzzFeed is in great company, along with the New York Times and CNN. However, CNN has a very different view of things. Earlier today they released a statement in response to Trump. But the not-so-buried lede here (it’s right there in the first sentence) is CNN throwing BuzzFeed under the bus:

“CNN’s decision to publish carefully sourced reporting about the operations of government is vastly different than Buzzfeed’s decision to publish unsubstantiated memos,” the statement reads. The penultimate sentence adds, “We made it clear that we were not publishing any of the details of the 35-page document because we have not corroborated the report’s allegations.” Again, the challenge here is directed at Trump, but the premise is that BuzzFeed was operating under different, looser standards than CNN when it decided to publish a document full of unverified claims.

Asked about the statement, BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith told the Huffington Post’s Michael Calderone he wouldn’t participate in, “an attempt to divide the media against each other.” If there is such an attempt, it seems to be coming directly from CNN.

Finally, Fox News’ Shepard Smith defended CNN and also differentiated between their reporting and what he calls the “document dump” by “an online news property.”

Here’s shaky video of Smith’s statement:


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback