BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief “Doubts the Allegations”

BuzzFeed have stuck their neck out publishing what they admit are unverified allegations about Trump in Russia. Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith emailed staff to explain this extra-ordinary departure from the usual journalistic norms:

From: Ben Smith

As you have probably seen. this evening we published a secret dossier making explosive and unverified allegations about Donald Trump and Russia. I wanted to briefly explain to you how we made the decision to publish it.

We published the dossier, which Ken Bensinger obtained through his characteristically ferocious reporting, so that, as we wrote, “Americans can make up their own minds about allegations about the president-elect that have circulated at the highest levels of the US government.”

Our presumption is to be transparent in our journalism and to share what we have with our readers. We have always erred on the side of publishing. In this case, the document was in wide circulation at the highest levels of American government and media. It seems to lie behind a set of vague allegations from the Senate Majority Leader to the director of the FBI and a report that intelligence agencies have delivered to the president and president-elect.

As we noted in our story, there is serious reason to doubt the allegations. We have been chasing specific claims in this document for weeks, and will continue to.

Publishing this document was not an easy or simple call, and people of good will may disagree with our choice. But publishing this dossier reflects how we see the job of reporters in 2017.

Ben

Ben actually disses his own story, which they have been unable to stand up. Would the New York Times have published this – no. Would Guido have published it? Possibly, if we thought the source was credible enough. Imagine if we published a story about a union leader consorting with a prostitute based on widely circulating rumours and off the record briefings, naming no names and getting no affidavits or pictures. Would that be credible?

Trump in Russia Allegations

Ben Smith, Buzzfeed’s Editor-in-Chief, on the Trump in Russia allegations

“…there is serious reason to doubt the allegations.”

How Buzzfeed’s #BoardGamerGate Played Out

monopoly-sucks-lol

Back in March Tom Chivers, formerly of The Telegraph, poster a mildly mocking why-oh-why piece about “Why Monopoly Is The Worst Game In The World”. Some time later it was deleted. We now are told at the behest of the Editor-in-chief, Ben Smith. Originally it was claimed that the Tom Chivers deleted it himself, an odd thing for a journalist to do unless he is being sued. Tom didn’t delete his tweets about it:tom chivers monopoly tweet

It is unlikely Tom knew that Hasbro, the makers of Monopoly, had signed a big sponsorship deal with Buzzfeed until perhaps Ben Smith, editor-in-chief, had a word.

84752-Loki-what-the-fuck-are-you-doi-kOM2[1]

At this point, in breach of all the fancy ethical guidelines that Buzzfeeders boast about…

… the post got deleted.

Critics were on the lookout for this kind of malfeasance after Gawker published an article on Thursday reporting that BuzzFeed deleted an article that attacked Dove’s latest advertising campaign.

On Friday morning MediaGuido was alerted by a reader that this had happened in relation to Monopoly. At 14:30 we reached out to Buzzfeed and Tom Chivers for an explanation. We got no reply. However, coincidentally perhaps, a former Telegraph colleague of Tom Chivers tweeted a reference to the issue at 15:40, at the same time as we published out first story.

The situation at this point was pretty much:

Media Guido predicted it would go like this:

It pretty much did exactly that, except far quicker…

Here’s the cover up:

As soon as New York media types started pushing the story, the statement of regret swiftly arrived:

It turns out that Buzzfeed at the very least self-censors when it comes to lucrative advertisers. The Telegraph did the same with HSBC, about which a Buzzfeed report took a very moralistic tone, reporting that “…Telegraph colleagues had lost all faith in the newspaper’s management”. Turns out hipsters can be hypocrites too…

The article isn’t even that interesting anyway:

LOL.



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