Donald Trump’s ineptitude has rubbed off onto the rail thin shoulders of the buzz feed reporters he regularly lambasts.
Last night, in the twilight of Obama’s farewell speech, and on the cusp of an internet deadline, Buzzfeed did something ethically unthinkable: they published a dossier containing unverified information on Trump. Meaning they published something without having fact checked it.
Would you ever trust a doctor who observes your symptoms, then treats you without double checking? Without taking blood and stool samples, or placing you into an MRI to get a closer look? I imagine that a yes to the aforementioned question could exist in the minds of madmen – and madwomen, of course -but not in the minds of those who are reasonable enough to demand a second opinion; or even a third – it’s a free country, right?
The dossier was acquired by Buzzfeed, not under a mutually exclusive agreement, but by “Characteristically Ferocious” reporting. The description “Characteristically Ferocious” was printed in the email sent to the entirety of Buzzfeed’s staff. This was their way of telling employees that this dossier was obtained in the most legitimate manner possible.
Let that sink in.
According to various Morning Joe pundits, this dossier had been shopped around to numerous media outlets and was cobbled together by a former British Intelligence agent. The shopping/selling window period for the dossier was not days, but weeks and months.
And what is in this dossier? Information the Russians had collected on Donald Trump, collected nefariously with the intention of using it in the future to blackmail him if he, some people say, refused to play ball. That was only some of it. There is also information regarding a Trump Lawyer who met with Russian Reps in secret, in Prague, to trade “information.” However, that Lawyer caught wind of this accusation (because Buzzfeed put it on the INTERNET) and was able to prove that he was nowhere near Prague, but in Southern California with his son – great reporting, right?
The New York Times, Morning Joe, and other major news sources reported on the unverified nature of the dossier. Morning Joe chose to talk about the story with the banner “Unverified and full of errors, BuzzFeed publishes dossier on Trump.”
Buzzfeed’s defense was a hackneyed trope used by journalists who don’t want to do the rigorous work needed to write a quality story: We publish the facts and let the public decide.
Despite there being “serious reason to doubt these allegations…”
During Trump’s press conference, which took place once the internet and the world of 24 hours news went mad under the purported spiral of information contained in the dossier, the President-Elect, and former reality TV show host, hurled invectives at the in-house Buzzfeed reporter, calling the publication “Fake News.” People cheered him on.
Way to go, Buzzfeed.
That’s what happens When Journalists Go Mad.