Yesterday, Buzzfeed News published a bogus story saying that Trump had deep ties to Russia. They claim that the two were so intertwined that the Kremlin gathered enough information to blackmail him. Social media aptly hashtagged the ordeal as Pissgate.
In the article “a person understood to be former British Intelligence” had leaked a dossier to U.S. intelligence services which consequently had spread to journalists and high-level politicians on Capitol Hill. The contents allege that Donald Trump had been cultivated and supported by the Russian government for the past five years in win the Presidency of the United States. Furthermore, they claim that the Kremlin had garnered enough information to blackmail Trump, including allegations of sexual perversion. Specifically, they say that during one stay in the Ritz Carlton in Moscow, he requested to stay in the same Presidential Suite that Barack and Michelle Obama booked in an earlier stay, then ordered prostitutes to his room to perform “golden showers” (urination) on the bed to spite the Obamas. The suite was “known” to be bugged with microphones and hidden cameras by the FSB.
There are already several holes in Buzzfeed’s portrayal that show that the dossier were indeed falsified documents. The person who was the leak for them was understood to be former British Intelligence, not is former British Intelligence. Already, we should be skeptical of the origin of the documents. Next, and this one stuck out a lot to me, why would Barack Obama stay in a room that is known to be bugged by Russian Intelligence? This inconsistency is a red flag, and the dossier should have been dismissed at this point. Finally, in the Buzzfeed article, it states multiple times that the dossier is unverified along with acknowledging spelling mistakes in the document. It is journalism 101 that if you have a claim, especially one that is a big as Buzzfeed puts forth, you need to verify it with a secondary source.
The day before, CNN reported that 2-page synopsis of the dossier Buzzfeed released was presented to President Obama and Trump and again their article mentions a former British Officer. Buzzfeed used CNN to justify their publication and stated that “The documents have circulated for months and acquired a kind of legendary status among journalists, lawmakers, and intelligence officials who have seen them.” Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith said that “publishing the dossier reflects how we see our job as journalists in 2017.”
Publishing false documents is not journalism; it’s called being a hack. If Buzzfeed’s article proves anything, it shows that the bubble in which the status-quo of media and government lives in is much worse than we initially thought. How could not one single person say “uhh guys, I think there is something wrong here” when they read these documents?
I am at a loss for words over how inept and incompetent these people are. From established journalists to intelligence officials, they were all duped into believing the documents were real because they wanted to believe they were. With multiple reports saying that the entire act was possibly a 4chan troll, it makes this who thing sound more like a movie than real life.