Buzzfeed falls into another pit

Buzzfeed got egg all over its face again as a journalism outfit with its embarrassingly erroneous reporting - and contradictory post reporting statements about who saw what - on what President Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, told Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office. It was so bad the special counsel's office came out refuted it as false. "Even Mueller throwing Buzzfeed under the bus," as Howie Carr aptly characterized it.

It also was probably a 'canary trap,' - a contrived leak in a bid to shake out a leaker, as AT's Thomas Lifson described yesterday here.

Mueller would have gotten his leaker, while Buzzfeed, which took the bait, was left holding the bag.

Which doesn't speak well for it. Some journalism outfits (possibly CNN's Jake Tapper, but I can't find the tweet and it doesn't help that he apparently spends entire days tweeting, with rivers of tweets making things hard to find), seem to have turned the bait down. But not Buzzfeed.

And that brings up that it was Buzzfeed, again, that always takes the bad bait.

Back in the early days of the Trump administration, recall that it was Buzzfeed that published, full-on, the contents of the now-discredited Steele dossier. Other news agencies, such as Tapper's CNN, for instance, slyly kept the unverified dossier's contents out of the actual news report but went and reported that then-FBI director James Comey held a meeting with Trump about it, in a CYA bid to get it in the news and people talking about it, without taking responsibility.

Buzzfeed wasn't so clever - it wanted the gratification of publishing the Trump 'pee dossier' right away, being first, drawing the eyeballs, and unlike CNN, got its fingers burned as at least one lawsuit rolled in to fight off (it won) as a result of the pure garbage of its unverified contents. News agencies (shut out from the traffic) harrumphed about Buzzfeed's slovenly news ethics, which was easy to do because it really was a junk dossier done by a group of partisan Democratic hacks and their British and Russian allies. But Buzzfeed learned nothing from the experience.

There it was again, caught out in a story fed to it by someone who wanted to find a leaker, and haplessly defending its 'reporting' as the whole story falls apart. According to the Washington Examiner:

BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith said his team stands by its reporting and called on Mueller's office to further clarify what it was disputing.


What's more, it's now becoming a pattern. Got a skeevy piece of 'information,' true or not, you'd like to feed to the press? Standards are likely being toughened by most news organizations, given the embarrassment they face when they get something wrong. But not at Buzzfeed. You can be the spin doctors of this world - the Ben Rhodeses, the Fusion GPS's Glenn Simpsons, the Sidney Blumenthals of this world have noticed. Got something skeevy that won't pass Wall Street Journal or Washington Post muster? Well then by all means, feed that B-material slop to Buzzfeed: they'll believe anything and they won't ask too many questions.

That's not a good reputation for a news organization to have, and already the New York Times is harrumphing.

But with spin doctors and narrative masters proliferating in the Washington swamp and seeing that Buzzfeed never learns - you can bet there will be more such incidents. Maybe it should return to its roots, which is not news, but cat videos.