Buzzfeed Editor on Publishing Trump Dossier: ‘Absolutely the Right Thing to Do’

Buzzfeed dossier Trump interview
Courtesy of MSNBC

Buzzfeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith met with Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press” on Wednesday and defended the online new outlet’s controversial decision to publish a private intelligence report containing unverified claims that Russia attempted to compromise President-elect Donald Trump.

“I think we are now in a media environment where you have to engage in false statements,” Smith said.

Todd pressed Smith on the nature of his decision throughout the interview, telling Smith, “You just published fake news. Why is that an unfair description?”


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“This was a real story about a real document that was really being passed around between the very top officials of this country,” Smith countered.

Acknowledging that Buzzfeed was dealing with an “incredibly difficult balance,” Smith pointed out that the dossier was already circulating at the top levels of the intelligence community. “I think when people are, as Harry Reid did, top officials, are not just seeing it, [but] making decisions based on it, it is appropriate to tell your audience and respect the fact that they can say, ‘This looks like nonsense.'”

“I think this was absolutely the right thing to do,” Smith concluded, despite the backlash Buzzfeed has seen in the past day.

In its publication of the 35-page dossier, Buzzfeed noted that the information is unverified, and possibly unverifiable, and that the report contained errors. The story came under fire of many, including Trump himself, who called Buzzfeed a “failing pile of garbage” at his first press conference as president-elect earlier on Wednesday.

Trump’s ire carried over to CNN as well during the press conference, where he refused to take a CNN reporter’s question and told him, “You are fake news.” Before Buzzfeed published the dossier on Tuesday, CNN revealed that a two-page synopsis of the report had been included in classified materials presented to Trump and President Obama. Because the details could not be verified, however, CNN and other media outlets did not publish the specifics.

In an email sent to staff on Wednesday, Buzzfeed CEO Jonah Peretti told employees that “we are not going to respond to these divisive comments” from Trump’s administration criticizing the report. “We stand with Ben on his decision to publish this newsworthy document,” it read.

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  1. chuck todd was plainly wrong: this was not “fake news” at all: the fact that the document existed and was being considered at the highest levels of our government was “true”. with respect to the underlying contents of the document, we don’t know if the contents are true or not. trump has lied so often that his credibility is gone. his documented and admitted sexual assault lends credibility to the report. chuck todd on the other hand was not acting as a “neutral” reporter: he was serving as a trump protector.

  2. Conservative in cali says:

    Yur hate for trump makes anything ok. Yu liberals are the nastiest people if we don’t agree to what u think let me change that not think but feel. To me it shows u can’t believe the intelligence community ethier u just make up reports with no proof. Yu really are sad open your eyes and maybe take a moment and read and research that’s how I come to my conclusions not from the media they are a joke and have an agenda and that’s not telling the truth they write about how they feel not about what is the truth sad

  3. BgRod says:

    Fake news (that can’t be disproved here) seems appropriate to cover an illegitimate fake president-elect (which can be proved). Karma’s a bitch, Trump. You peddle lies and innuendo, deny, distract and then play the victim card when called out for being an asshole. WTF, so you are going to label all criticism levied against you (as every president receives) as fake news? Make America great again by f_cking off. Lock him up for treason and bad hair and take your whore wife and daughters with you.

  4. Steve Barr says:

    Trump’s zombies constantly scream fake news. We are not stupid . Destroy the press.and all truth comes from Big Brother . We’ve seen this movie before in Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Russia . We are in a world of shit !

  5. Robert says:

    Buzzfeed is a joke. I hope they become the next Gawker. The amount of attacks on Trump from the liberal media have reached epidemic levels. I have absolutely put my guard up on what the media spins out for us to consume. There is no credibility anymore just ratings and choosing the right or left.

    • Robert says:

      The Robert who posted @ 6:25 pm is not the same as the Robert who @ 5:49 pm. Let’s just make that clear. This is not to denigrate the poster @ 6:25, but only to establish we are not one and the same person. Thank you.

  6. Robert says:

    The additional scandal here is that this fraudulent hit-piece “dossier”, allegedly created as part of opposition research BY REPUBLICANS, then allegedly BY DEMOCRATS afterward, found its way to John McCain (who has revenge on the mind after being condemned by Trump publicly as not being a hero because he had been captured during the Vietnam War), and made its way into an official intelligence report that was then presented to Obama and Trump. Being erroneous and unverified, it should have never made it into that official report without having been vetted/investigated and verified as being accurate. It is therefore more accurate to call this an intel hit-piece used to humiliate the president-elect. Trump bad-mouthed the “intelligence community” and this was a bit of revenge for that, too. The thing is, it humiliated this nation as much as it embarrassed Trump. So their selfish act to engage in this dirty politics indicates their priority, and that priority, when included with the two painfully embarrassing official US intelligence Russia hack reports, also damaged the standing of the US in the eyes of the world. They didn’t just make Trump look weak, but our country with him. That is the game being played now.

  7. Katz Kliban says:

    Hooray for Ben Smith of BuzzFeed! Trump needed a taste of Karma for LYING for six years that Obama was not born in the USA. Trump can dish it out but can’t take it. He said Ted Cruz’s father was part of the JFK assassination. Lie after Lie and most often the MEDIA FAILS TO CALL TRUMP A LIAR. That is is worst problem with the media. They kiss Trump’s ass because they are afraid he won’t let them ask Trump a question!

  8. Sadly, I don’t think the document is authentic, even if it was circulated among top intelligence. Without a source or proof beyond doubt, it has to be treated as suspect. Was it news? Probably, can it be substantiated, probably not.

  9. nimportequoi says:

    sdump and his blind followers love goldenshowers…liars, liars, catch on fire!!

  10. Richie says:

    Is this really any different than Trump saying that the father of Ted Cruz was part of the JFK assassination, quoting the National Enquirer? Play by the sword, die by the sword.

  11. Mike Haluska says:

    The lame left and mainstream media are the most pathetic, biased bunch of losers and deserve whatever wrath that Trump sees fit.

  12. steve bowen says:

    Trump to return press to their historical and legitimate role as reporters of news not arbiters of policy. About time. nice job this am spreading the Trump golden shower disinformation. You make the “birther” question look like anthropological research. Liberal hypocrisy always astounds.

    • Nineup says:

      I take it you would not even believe the video either? Right?! Here’s a man that lies everyday and you are willing to overlook or ignore it.
      You got some nerve comrade!

  13. JenniferDaley says:

    So this brainiac thinks it’s the “absolutely right thing” to publish stuff about people with absolutely no facts whatsoever? They’ll be out of business, very, very soon. Morons.

  14. Silent Velcro says:

    Smith and Buzzfeed = Dead Man Walking.

  15. Mark says:

    Considering that fake news is told by the present administration itself, i.e. the Benghazi viral video hoax, I can see why Buzzfeed and CNN would put another obviously fake news story out there and expect everyone to believe it. Disgraceful.

    • Nineup says:

      Do you work gor fox news? Your president to be spouts nothing but lies, you have the gall to talk about this administration!!!? Your should be ashamed of yourself comrade!

      • Can Spot Them With Ease says:

        It’s incredibly easy now to spot the people that have not yet bothered to do any of their own research outside of what the mainstream media force feeds them – despite having the tools to do so. It’s not easy work, so I can understand their willingness to remain lazy and ignorant. But they will go on doing themselves and their offspring a great disservice. It’s time to take some personal responsibility folks. There is no longer any good excuse to not wake up and start taking your red pills and finally see what has been hidden from you behind the veil.

  16. Quaker says:

    Fake news trash site. Almost as bad as CNN.

    • Michael Anthony says:

      Fake news? Hardly. As most Ethics groups said today, this document and the information has been circulating in DC for awhile, the FBI is investigatIng, and, Obama and Trump were both briefed on it. In fact, the FBI knew about this before the election. It’s hardly are news. It’s real, it’s being discussed and investigated.

      Trumps dismissal of it, and his treatment of the media, us classic Nixon behaviour. It’s laughable that Trump thinks he’ll last 8 years. He’ll be out in his first term.

      • krumhorn says:

        Baloney! The ONLY reason to publish this garbage is to disseminate the contents of the document. Otherwise, reporting on the mere existence of a controversial and unverifiable collection of assertions that has circulated in the intelligence community would have been sufficient.

        – Krumhorn

      • Can Spot Them With Ease says:

        The only thing that is real about this news is the paper wasted to print it. You do realize that opponents of Trump, both in the Republican and Democratic parties, hired the author to find dirt on Trump and this is what he came back with? You do realize that despite those intentions, for MONTHS, no media institution or intelligence agency has been able to substantiate any of the claims in the document and have, therefore, chosen not to touch it with a 10-foot pole? BuzzFeed only chose to do so because they saw CNN reference it and foolishly believed they were going to beat them to the punch. CNN is now distancing themselves from the dossier.

        I mean, c’mon man. What’s your objective with trying to pedal this B.S. as real? The media has failed miserably at their jobs and doing the citizens of this country a great disservice. MSM has pulled the wool over your eyes.

        “Fake news will become more sophisticated, and fake, ambiguous, and spun-up stories will spread widely,” warned an important American editor at the end of December 2016. His name: Ben Smith.

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