BuzzFeed Tells CNN Their Story Is Right, But Otherwise... No Comment

BuzzFeed Editor Ben Smith and reporter Anthony Cormier both appeared on Brian Stelter’s Reliable Sources this morning to talk about the Thursday night report that has dominated the weekend news cycle.


The BuzzFeed News story, which has since received a rare (and full) denial from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office, claimed that Donald Trump told Michael Cohen to lie to Congress, and that the sources who gave Cormier and co-author Jason Leopold the information stood by the intel.

However, there are some issues with the reporting and the aftermath that didn’t stand up to scrutiny.

The morning after the report was released, both Cormier and Leopold made media appearances (Cormier to CNN and Leopold to MSNBC). Cormier said in his appearance that they had not seen the documents with the damning information, but he expressed his faith in the accuracy of the sources. However, Leopold told MSNBC that they had seen the documents.

Asked about the discrepancy, the response was… nothing, really.


The scrutiny about the report was kicked into overdrive after a rare rebuttal from the Special Counsel’s office, which was considered by most observers to be a nail in the coffin of the BuzzFeed story. However, BuzzFeed News is standing by the report, and have repeatedly asked that the Special Counsel clarify what part of the story was wrong.

Look at the tag in that video. “Reporter Behind Bombshell BuzzFeed Story Speaks Out.” What’s notable is who didn’t appear on Reliable Sources – Leopold, the second author.

Take all this into consideration, and it looks more like Leopold has been benched until this story plays out. BuzzFeed can’t un-release the report, but they can’t just fully retract something of that magnitude.


What’s more, clearly legal departments are involved now, and I would imagine there is Congressional involvement as well. House Intelligence members, and several other Democrats, delivered strong but noticeably measured responses calling for “investigations” into the claim. No serious person even that high up was willing to latch onto the story fully.

That’s a problem for BuzzFeed, because it doesn’t look good for them right now. The Washington Post story on the Special Counsel’s response indicates that the entire report was wrong, not just the claim that they had Trump Organizations on record (a claim that was first called into question here at RedState).

As I wrote on Friday, there are plenty of reasons to be skeptical about the report, but BuzzFeed’s interview this morning with Stelter did not come across as being from a position of strength. It looked like a facade covering up the fears that this just won’t blow over.


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