Bill Doskoch: Media, BPS*, Film, Minutiae

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Buzzfeed News editor explains why they published the Trump dossier

Buzzfeed News editor-in-chief Ben Smith says the Trump dossier had been circulating for weeks at the highest levels of the U.S. government; wasn’t it time to let the public see it and judge for themselves?

From the NYT (“Why BuzzFeed News Published the Dossier“):

BuzzFeed News decided to publish the dossier, with appropriate context and caveats, for two related reasons, and only after we had spent weeks with reporters in the United States and Europe trying to confirm or disprove specific claims.

First, the documents were in wide circulation among top intelligence and elected officials and news organizations. They were being fought over — and acted on — at the highest levels of power. But the rest of the country was getting only the occasional glimpse of those battles, never the source documents themselves.

“The only party to this whole affair that didn’t know about it, it seems, was the public,” as the newspaper editor Seth Lipsky wrote in The Wall Street Journal.

Second, the dossier’s contents spilled into view last week when CNNbroke the news that both President Obama and Mr. Trump had received an intelligence briefing that included a synopsis of the document, whose allegations CNN summarized as “compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump.”

We at BuzzFeed News had, of course, considered that someone else would post the dossier, and planned in that case to follow by adding what we knew on it. We hadn’t anticipated what actually happened: a bombshell report that described the document, while the document itself remained secret.

That halfway position ran contrary to how we think of our compact with our audience: You trust us to give you the full story; we trust you to reckon with a messy, sometimes uncertain reality. And with other news organizations already trumpeting the dossier’s central allegation — that the Trump campaign maintained secret ties to the Russian leadership — our decision to publish it in full rapidly advanced the story.

Mon, January 23 2017 » Main Page, Media, politics