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CNN Hires Four BuzzFeed Political Reporters, After Jeff Zucker Said BuzzFeed Wasn’t ‘Legitimate’ News Org

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Courtesy of CNN

CNN president Jeff Zucker has said he doesn’t think BuzzFeed is a “legitimate” news outfit. But he’s evidently been convinced that four of its reporters are among the best in the game.

On Monday, the Turner-owned cable news network announced that it was hiring BuzzFeed’s four-member K-File investigative reporting team, led by Andrew Kaczynski. The BuzzFeed crew, which includes BuzzFeed deputy politics editor Kyle Blaine and reporters Nate McDermott and Christopher Massie, will officially join CNN on Oct. 4 and will be based in New York.

The four BuzzFeeders “have perfected the art and science of mining legislation, voting records, video and radio appearances, open and closed records, and something that has never been more important than in this unprecedented election: an intuitive understanding of the trail each of us and our aspiring leaders leave on digital and social media,” Andrew Morse, executive VP of CNN U.S., wrote in a staff memo announcing their hires.

At BuzzFeed, the K-File team’s work has included a report last week that Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump appeared in a soft-core porn Playboy video in 2000, and tracking down audio from a 2002 interview in which Trump told Howard Stern he was opposed to the Iraq invasion.

Zucker, in an interview with Variety earlier this summer, disparaged BuzzFeed, along with Vice Media, as not being in the same league as CNN. “I don’t think Vice and BuzzFeed are legitimate news organizations,” he said. “They are native advertising shops. We crush both of them. They are not even in our same class.”

BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith responded in a tweet to CNN’s poaching members of his staff:

Morse, in his memo to CNN employees, said the quartet of BuzzFeed reporters is “the perfect complement to CNN’s powerful and impactful investigative teams,” and said CNN will showcase the K-File team’s reporting “on the global platforms of the world’s most powerful brand in news.”

In an interview with Huffington Post, which first reported CNN’s hiring of the BuzzFeed team, Kaczynski, 26, said that CNN offered “unparalleled” resources and would give K-File the opportunity to “influence the political debate in this country in a powerful way.”

BuzzFeed in August reorganized to separate its entertainment businesses from its news operations, which the company said was aimed at better delineating the two divisions and helping both produce video content.