Tags: BuzzFeed | Ben Smith | Defends | Trump Dossier | Legitimate News

BuzzFeed's Ben Smith Defends Publishing Trump Dossier as 'Legitimate News'

Image: BuzzFeed's Ben Smith Defends Publishing Trump Dossier as 'Legitimate News'

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By Brian Freeman   |   Monday, 23 Jan 2017 12:16 PM

BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith wrote a column in The New York Times on Monday explaining his reasons for publishing the 35-page dossier of unverified allegations about ties between President Donald Trump and Russia, saying "the instinct to suppress news of this significance is precisely the wrong one for journalism in 2017."

"In a democracy, the justification for shielding the public from something like that must be overwhelming," writes Smith, and the "Trump dossier was legitimate news: a document that was already influencing decision makers at the very highest levels."

He pointed out that while the public was being left largely in the dark about the contents of the documents, they were in wide circulation among top intelligence and elected officials and news organizations.

When CNN broke the news that both President Barack Obama and Trump had received an intelligence briefing that include a summary of the document, Smith said BuzzFeed decided that such a "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."

Smith said that nobody should fall for the attempt by the Trump administration to call "fake news" any report they don't like, emphasizing that "the dossier is a real document that has been influencing senior officials, lawmakers, intelligence agencies and, potentially, the new commander in chief."

The BuzzFeed editor said that the solution to a world in which the White House announces "alternative facts" is not to turn away or have false balance between two claims, but "to develop new rules that adhere to the core values of honesty and respect for our audience [by] debunking falsehoods and being transparent with readers about our process of reporting.

"Sometimes, it means publishing unverified information in a transparent way that informs our users of its provenance, its impact and why we trust or distrust it."

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BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith wrote a column in The New York Times on Monday explaining his reasons for publishing the 35-page dossier of unverified allegations about ties between President Donald Trump...
BuzzFeed, Ben Smith, Defends, Trump Dossier, Legitimate News
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2017-16-23
 

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