Donald Trump: BuzzFeed, HuffPo Layoffs Caused By “Fake News And Bad Journalism”

President Donald Trump sent federal workers back to work this week allegedly out of sympathy for their payless plight. But he had little emotional support left for the journalists laid off this week by BuzzFeed and the Huffington Post.
In an afternoon …

BuzzFeed Layoffs Gut National News Desk, National Security Team

New details trickled out about the layoffs across BuzzFeed’s news division Friday, and the picture hasn’t been pretty: The publication’s entire national news desk has been laid off, as has almost the entire national security team, according to a source close to the company as well as tweets from affected writers and editors. Yep, it’s […]

BuzzFeed, HuffPost and Mic: Inside the Crisis in Digital News

The future of digital news is once again a topic of raging debate and concern after BuzzFeed and AOL-Yahoo and HuffPost announced severe staff cutbacks this week, once again putting hundreds of journalists out of work.

Can news survive in the digital age? What is the model?

“What if there is literally no profitable model for digital news?” MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes asked on Twitter on Thursday, setting off a long back and forth. “Or none that actually scales and endures without, say, the established readership base and brand of the [New York Times]. This seems…. Increasingly likely to me?”

Also Read: BuzzFeed to Lay Off 15 Percent of Its Staff

The word “crisis” is in the air, and understandably so. After a brutal year in the digital advertising space, after budgeting and strategic review and board meetings in January, BuzzFeed said it was cutting 15 percent of its staff (with pink slips to go to up to 400 people, according to one insider). Verizon said it was shedding 800 jobs in media — meaning AOL, Yahoo, Oath and HuffPost.

This follows other radical cuts by digital news organizations — the millennial news site Mic laid off its entire editorial staff last November before selling off its remaining assets, Refinery29 hacked 10 percent of its staff in October, and Billboard and The Hollywood Reporter trimmed 22 people this month as parent company Valence Media restructured its business operations.

The problem, as has been chronicled in this space with rising dismay, is that advertising dollars have been sucked away by the tech giants — Google and Facebook.

Also Read: James Woods Celebrates BuzzFeed, HuffPost Layoffs: ‘Victories for Real Journalism’

Two decades ago, Craig’s List killed classified advertising, the cash float that helped so many local papers — and newspapers have never really recovered.

Digital media organizations that arose in the wake of that shift found a model that worked for a time. To make newspapers obsolete, they raced for massive scale, driving reader “clicks” to float digital advertising dollars that could match the higher prices of print and pursuing video to get premium ad dollars for that platform.

But the cost of producing video at mass scale did not pencil out to profit and pricey experiments like HuffPost Live faded away.

Also Read: Layoffs Hit Billboard, The Hollywood Reporter After Restructuring at Parent Company

By the second decade of this millennium, Google and Facebook made any achievement of “scale” — of hundreds of millions of unique users per month — obsolete. With a technological expertise that news organizations can’t match, they target the audience that advertisers want more efficiently and with more precision than even the largest of news sites.

The third tech entrant into media selling, Amazon, has similar gargantuan scale and technological chops.

The Twitter debate on Thursday questioned whether news needs to be reframed less as a business proposition than as a public trust, funded by a federal tax, or whether seeking nonprofit status will be required to sustain journalism (particularly local journalism) in a modern democracy.

Also Read: Amazon Investors Unfazed by Jeff Bezos’ Divorce From His Wife of 25 Years

Sewell Chan, the new deputy managing editor at the Los Angeles Times, wrote: “I joined @latimes to find such a model. America is too big, its communities too diverse for @nytimes, @washingtonpost and @WSJ (great as they are) to be the only legacy papers that survive this mass-extinction event.”

BuzzFeed founder Jonah Peretti recently floated the idea of a merger between BuzzFeed and another publisher, saying in the New York Times that players like Vice Media, Vox, Group Nine and Refinery29 could combine forces and potentially provide a big enough bulwark against Google and Facebook.

On Twitter, David Folkenflik of NPR raised the prospect of micropayments for news, which he said has not worked in places where it’s been tried. Another commenter said news sites should consolidate payment through one vendor to make it easier for consumers.

Also Read: Refinery29 Lays Off 10 Percent of Staff After Missing Revenue Goals

Friends inside Oath and HuffPost tell me it is vastly demoralizing to know that Verizon has written down — or essentially written off — the value of their entire division despite the fact that it still produces hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue for the parent company.

Vice too is the midst of facing a similar reality. At TheWrap’s Power Women Summit in November, Vice’s new CEO Nancy Dubuc said she wasn’t sure about the media company’s valuation at that point — and Disney recently wrote down the value of its investment in Vice by $157 million.

How important is news? In the current era when news consumption and interest seem higher than ever, finding a way for digital news to survive is more urgent than ever.

Related stories from TheWrap:

James Woods Celebrates BuzzFeed, HuffPost Layoffs: ‘Victories for Real Journalism’

BuzzFeed to Lay Off 15 Percent of Its Staff

Robert Mueller’s Office Disputes BuzzFeed’s Bombshell Report: ‘Not Accurate’

James Woods Celebrates BuzzFeed, HuffPost Layoffs: ‘Victories for Real Journalism’

James Woods took to Twitter on Thursday morning to celebrate layoffs at BuzzFeed and HuffPost earlier this week, calling the news a “victory for real journalism.”

“Well, layoffs at #Buzzfeed and #HuffPo are victories for real journalism. The less #FakeNews, the better,” the actor wrote on Twitter. In his post, Woods included a screenshot of a tweet by Mother Jones editor in chief Clara Jeffrey, urging her followers to support news organizations.

“I would hope the people cheering layoffs of journalists can find whatever emotional support they so clearly need in their lives. As many smart people have written in recent days, lord knows that support will not be found on Twitter,” a rep for BuzzFeed told TheWrap.

Also Read: James Woods Warns Kevin Hart About Apologizing to ‘the Rage Mob’: ‘Don’t Climb Onto the Cross’

Reps for HuffPost did not immediately respond to request for comment from TheWrap.

The media layoffs this week suggest the broad industry contraction over the last several years will continue apace in 2019. On Wednesday evening, news broke that BuzzFeed would cut 15 percent of its staff.

“Over the past few months, we’ve done extensive work examining the trends in our business and the evolving economics of the digital platforms,” BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti explained to staff in an email.  “We’ve developed a good understanding of where we can consolidate our teams, focus in on the content that is working, and achieve the right cost structure to support our multi-revenue model. We are confident the changes we are making will put us on a firm foundation and allow us to invest and grow sustainably for years to come.

Cuts at Verizon Media have also resulted in layoffs at HuffPost, with of the news coming to staffers Thursday afternoon.

Woods, an Emmy and Golden Globe-winner, is best known for his roles in “Casino,” “Once Upon a Time in America” and “Salvador.” In recent years, Woods has become known for his conservative positions. He is also one of President Trump’s biggest supporters online and even earning a shoutout from the president earlier this month.

Well, layoffs at #Buzzfeed and #HuffPo are victories for real journalism. The less #FakeNews, the better… pic.twitter.com/CHcSZR7r0C

— James Woods (@RealJamesWoods) January 24, 2019

Related stories from TheWrap:

James Woods Warns Kevin Hart About Apologizing to ‘the Rage Mob’: ‘Don’t Climb Onto the Cross’

James Woods Helps Alyssa Milano, Holly Marie Combs With Horse Rescues During Southern California Fires

James Woods Calls Clintons Bomb Threat ‘Obvious Political Stunt’

James Woods Wants the ‘Licensed Hunting of Poachers’ After Blake Fischer Hunting Outrage

BuzzFeed Pushes Back on Special Counsel’s Denial of Michael Cohen Report

BuzzFeed has issued a new statement saying that it has “re-confirmed” its report about former Donald Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, standing by the reporting despite a denial from the Special Counsel’s office.

“As we’ve re-confirmed our reporting, we’ve seen no indication that any specific aspect of our story is inaccurate. We remain confident in what we’ve reported, and will share more as we are able,” the company said.

BuzzFeed’s comment follows the Friday statement issued by Robert Mueller’s office disputing a report that President Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress about a prospective Trump Tower in Moscow. Per Mueller’s office, “BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the Special Counsel’s Office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s Congressional testimony are not accurate.”

Also Read: Robert Mueller’s Office Disputes BuzzFeed’s Bombshell Report: ‘Not Accurate’

Throughout, BuzzFeed has stood by the reporting from journalists Anthony Cormier and Jason Leopold, with BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith calling on Mueller to “make clear what he’s disputing.”

According to BuzzFeed’s original story, Cohen told investigators that Trump instructed him to tell Congress that negotiations for the Moscow Tower ended months earlier than they actually did, in an effort to downplay Trump’s involvement in the deal. The report also stated that, according to sources, Mueller’s office had learned about Trump’s directive “through interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents.”

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders dismissed the report, calling it “categorically false.” Other critics questioned the unnamed sources and conflicting reports about whether the BuzzFeed reporters had seen the evidence or were relying on accounts from their sources.

Also Read: Sarah Sanders Calls BuzzFeed Michael Cohen Report ‘Categorically False’

The intense scrutiny also resurfaced reporter Leopold’s checkered past. In 2002, Salon.com removed a story Leopold had written for the site after accusations of plagiarism. There was also a 2006 Columbia Journalism Review piece accusing him of fabricating sources.

The criticism prompted BuzzFeed to issue a defense of Leopold and the story Friday morning, telling TheWrap: “Jason is one of the best journalists in the world, and he has proven it, with reporting that’s been months ahead of developments in the Mueller investigation.”

“His and Anthony’s work has been proven to be true at every turn – and it’s interesting that these personal attacks are surfacing only now, as the facts become more dangerous for the individuals involved. BuzzFeed News stands by this story 100%,” the statement said.

Related stories from TheWrap:

Robert Mueller’s Office Disputes BuzzFeed’s Bombshell Report: ‘Not Accurate’

Sarah Sanders Calls BuzzFeed Michael Cohen Report ‘Categorically False’

BuzzFeed Wins Defamation Lawsuit Over Steele Dossier

Donald Trump Laments Media’s “Lost Credibility” Over BuzzFeed Story Ahead Of Latest Border Wall Announcement

On his way to Dover to oversee the arrival of four Americans killed this week in an ISIS attack in Syria and ahead of an announcement today about his proposed border wall and ongoing government shutdown, President Donald Trump weighed in on Thursday&#8…

Donald Trump Tweets Victory Lap After Robert Mueller Statement Disputes Aspects Of BuzzFeed Report

President Donald Trump took a victory lap after Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office issued a statement refuting aspects of BuzzFeed’s article.
Trump so far has confined himself to retweets by Trump supporters, mocking BuzzFeed.
In the a…

Robert Mueller’s Office Disputes BuzzFeed’s Bombshell Report: ‘Not Accurate’

Robert Mueller’s office is pushing back on aspects of BuzzFeed’s bombshell report that President Trump directed his former lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about the Moscow Trump Tower project.

“BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the Special Counsel’s Office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s Congressional testimony are not accurate,” special counsel spokesman Peter Carr said in a statement.

Mueller’s office rarely comments on stories related to the special counsel’s investigation.

Also Read: Sarah Sanders Calls BuzzFeed Michael Cohen Report ‘Categorically False’

BuzzFeed Editor in Chief, Ben Smith, told TheWrap in statement Friday evening: “We stand by the reporting and the sources who informed it, and we urge the Special Counsel to make clear what he’s disputing,”

On Thursday, BuzzFeed reported that federal investigators had a “cache” of evidence that Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress about the timing of negotiations over a potential Trump Tower in Moscow.

The story, written by Anthony Cormier and Jason Leopold, sent shockwaves through Washington as critics of the president and TV pundits argued that, if true, to the findings by BuzzFeed could be grounds for Trump’s impeachment.

According to the article, Cohen told investigators that Trump instructed him to lie to Congress that negotiations for the Moscow Tower ended months earlier than they actually did in an effort to downplay — Trump’s involvement in the deal.

The report also stated that, according to sources, the Muller’s office had evidence in  the form of emails, text messages and a “cache” of documents.

Also Read: Michael Cohen Hired Tech Consultant to Rig Online Drudge, CNBC Polls for Trump (Report)

On Friday, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders dismissed the BuzzFeed report, calling it “categorically false.”

Other critics questioned the unnamed sources and conflicting reports about whether the BuzzFeed reporters had seen the evidence or were relying on accounts from their sources.

Past missteps by one of the writers, Jason Leopold, were also brought back to light, including a piece he wrote for Salon in 2002, which the website was later forced to retract, following plagiarism accusations. A 2006 Columbia Journalism Review article accused Leopold of fabricating sources.

BuzzFeed had released a statement earlier Friday defending the reporters behind the story and saying that it “stands by this story 100%.”

Meanhile, Cohen’s adviser, Lanny Davis, refused to confirm or deny the report during an interview with MSNBC on Friday afternoon.

Also Read: Colbert Breaks Down Trump’s ‘Simple, Non-Panicked Explanation’ for Moscow Trump Tower Timeline (Video)

UPDATE: A spokesperson for the special counsel is disputing BuzzFeed News’ report. https://t.co/BEoMKiDypn pic.twitter.com/GWWfGtyhaE

— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) January 19, 2019

Related stories from TheWrap:

‘SNL’: De Niro’s Robert Mueller Thanks Jeff Sessions for All His Help With the Investigation (Video)

Far-Right Gateway Pundit Writer Suspended for Role in Unfounded #MeToo Accusation Against Robert Mueller

Newsmax Host Linked to Effort to Pay Women for ‘False Claims’ of Misconduct Against Robert Mueller

Sarah Sanders Calls BuzzFeed Michael Cohen Report ‘Categorically False’

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders took aim at BuzzFeed on Friday, calling their report Thursday night that said President Trump had directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about a possible Trump Tower Moscow project “categorically false”

“Look, it’s ridiculous. As the president’s outside council put in a statement earlier today, and they said, and I think this sums it up perfectly – it’s categorically false,” Sanders told Fox News host Jesse Watters in an interview to air Saturday.

“I think BuzzFeed has about as much credibility as Michael Cohen, considering both of these individuals and outlets have put out and advocated for a fake dirty dossier. BuzzFeed, and Michael Cohen is a known and admitted liar. I don’t think these are any two people I’m going to look for in the credibility department.”

Also Read: Washington Post Media Analyst Says Ocasio-Cortez Criticism Rooted in ‘Unacknowledged Sexism’

Sanders’ comment arises from speculation that the story came to BuzzFeed by way of Cohen, which the piece’s authors, Jason Leopold and Anthony Cormier, have denied.

The piece sent shockwaves online when it broke, with Washington Post among several saying the story could be the smoking gun tying President Trump to criminal activity. Critics questioned the anonymous sourcing and conflicting reports about whether the reporters on the story had actually seen the evidence or were relying on accounts from sources.

Jason Leopold’s past missteps as a journalist also made the rounds, including a piece he wrote for Salon in 2002, which the website retracted after accusations of plagiarism. There was also a 2006 Columbia Journalism Review piece accusing him of fabricating sources. A full catalog of his checkered past was published by CNN’s Oliver Darcy on Friday.

On Friday, BuzzFeed issued a defense of both Leopold and the story, telling TheWrap that they stood behind both 100 percent.

“Jason is one of the best journalists in the world, and he has proven it, with reporting that’s been months ahead of developments in the Mueller investigation. His and Anthony’s work has been proven to be true at every turn – and it’s interesting that these personal attacks are surfacing only now, as the facts become more dangerous for the individuals involved. BuzzFeed News stands by this story 100%.”

Related stories from TheWrap:

Sarah Sanders Defends Trump Treatment of Female Reporters: ‘Women Wanted to Be Treated Equally’

Sarah Sanders Accused of Sharing Doctored InfoWars Video of Jim Acosta to Back Claim of ‘Inappropriate Behavior’

Sarah Sanders Blasts Media for ‘Outrageous’ Response to Bomb Scare (Video)

CNN’s Jim Acosta Calls Out Sarah Sanders: ‘You Don’t State the Facts’ (Video)