Trump Muddled CNN And Buzzfeed's Reporting

CNN chose to withhold unverified documents published by Buzzfeed — but Trump still slammed CNN as "fake news."
Posted at 8:09 PM, Jan 11, 2017

CNN reporter Jim Acosta asked President-elect Donald Trump, "Mr. President-elect, can you give us a question? Since you're attacking our news organization, can you give us a question?"

"Don't be rude," Trump said. "No, I'm not going to give you a question. You are fake news."

This presidential beef is brought to you by several reports on allegations that Russia has some compromising information on Trump.

Trump has dismissed CNN's report on the allegations as fake, but the outlet says Trump has his facts wrong. Here's what actually happened.

The day before Trump's press conference, CNN aired its report on a series of memos containing the allegations against Trump and Russia. The network didn't go into specifics about what the allegations were.

Rather than describing the content of the memos, CNN said it had verified two facts about them: They were compiled by a source trusted by the intelligence community, and both the president and president-elect were briefed on the claims.

Shortly after that, Buzzfeed News published a 35-page document containing detailed descriptions about Russia's efforts to compromise Trump. Those reports are where all those crude Twitter jokes about Trump came from.

Both outlets made it clear the allegations against Trump have not been verified. But CNN's report stuck to facts it could verify through its own unnamed sources. Buzzfeed decided to publish everything it had — with a caveat that it might all be untrue.

Buzzfeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith said publishing the memos "was not an easy or simple call" but was done "to be transparent in our journalism."

"When you have an object that is in play, that is having consequences for the way our elected leaders are acting, you do have to ask the question of, 'Why should I suppress that?'" Smith said on MSNBC.

CNN put out a statement distancing itself from Buzzfeed's reporting and challenging Trump's team to point out any specific inaccuracies in the CNN report.

CNN anchor Jake Tapper said, "What I suspect we are seeing here is an attempt to discredit legitimate, responsible attempts to report on this incoming administration with irresponsible journalism that hurts us all."