CNN and Buzzfeed: The Dangerous Kind of Fake News
You might remember that it was Buzzfeed that got the “fake news” ball rolling after the election when they published a roundup of the most viral stories on social media throughout the campaign. According to their calculations, completely fake stories like “Pope Endorses Donald Trump” received more clicks than properly-vetted and sourced journalism.
But since conservatives jumped on the story to accuse the mainstream media of propagating their own version of fake news, Buzzfeed apparently decided: If you can’t beat them, join them. That would explain why they chose to go ahead on Tuesday and publish several pages of oppo-research garbage alleging that Trump has been a Russian puppet for at least five years.
It takes serious garbage anti-Trump reporting for even the mainstream media titans to turn on you, but that’s exactly what happened here. Even the New York Times, which has run more than a few biased stories against Trump, expressed grave reservations about Buzzfeed’s decision to publish the report.
Unfortunately, CNN couldn’t resist the opportunity to run excerpts of this salacious nonsense in their own story. And while CNN’s shameful piece doesn’t scrape the bottom of the Buzzfeed barrel, it’s still well outside the bounds of ethical journalism.
On Wednesday morning, MSNBC’s Mika Brzezinski said this episode proves that some in the political news business failed to learn the lesson of the election.
“I mean, everybody should work on stories that look like they’re worth looking into, and we should continue to do so,” she said. “And when you can triple-source it, and you have evidence, then you have story. Right now, there’s no story here.
“And I think the people who are going with it at this point are continuing to make the same mistakes that they have made in the run up to this election, which is to let their bias get in the way of actually finding out what the facts are and putting them out there,” she concluded.
Whether you hate Donald Trump or you’ve built a shrine to him in your back bedroom, you should see the problem with what CNN and Buzzfeed did with this story. If you love Trump, you want to see the media give him a fair chance. If you hate him, you want the media to preserve their integrity so they can hold him accountable when and if something truly significant breaks. Either way, having our political press descend to the realm of supermarket tabloid reporting is extremely dangerous for our democracy.