BuzzFeed Editor Says CNN’s Russian Dossier Report Led to Release of Documents

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BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith took to the New York Times op-ed page to explain why his site published the infamous golden shower dossier featuring unverified allegations between Donald Trump and Russia.

Smith claimed BuzzFeed “spent weeks with reporters in the United States and Europe trying to confirm or disprove specific claims.”

He explained that elected officials and media members were familiar with the dossier, so it wasn’t fair that the American public was being left in the dark.

However, wanting to include the public isn’t the only reason Smith cites for publishing the dossier. He also throws some blame toward CNN.

“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,” Smith wrote. “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.”

Smith then said that fake news is simply, “a term now used by partisans and cynics to discredit reporting they don’t like.”

He continued: “But the dossier is a real document that has been influencing senior officials, lawmakers, intelligence agencies and, potentially, the new commander in chief.”

Smith took a shot at the Trump administration, saying, “The need to show our work and earn trust has never been more important, since once reliable official sources are peddling ‘alternative facts’ — as the White House press secretary did Saturday.”

The op-ed concluded: “The instinct to suppress news of this significance is precisely the wrong one for journalism in 2017.”

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