The final weeks of the President Barack Obama’s administration have been marked by a tumultuous transition as the world inches closer to experiencing a Trump administration. Fears over Russian interference within the United States during the presidential election have evolved into full blown hysteria, involving a plot by Russian intelligence to use President-elect Trump as a puppet.
BuzzFeed dropped a bombshell on the country when it leaked a two page dossier claiming that the President-elect has deep ties to Russia. Although BuzzFeed even admitted in the article there were “specific, unverified, and potentially unverifiable allegations”, these points were still presented as facts. The documents, which contained errors and misspellings, also contained graphic reports of sexual acts as noted by the Russians. The source was former British intelligence.
This is significant because of a number of reasons. When Wikileaks dropped its numerous leaks regarding the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign, many denounced them because the authenticity was not confirmed. This point alone was used by liberal allies and opponents of President-elect Trump to show that these documents could not be trusted.
Also, the “Pizzagate” rumor spread across the Internet because of unproven reports. The conspiracy theory alleges that Washington D.C. pizza restaurant Comet Ping Pong operates a pedophile sex ring that involves numerous top political figures, including Clinton campaign chair John Podesta. Because these gross sexual acts could not be verified, they were dismissed as false.
It’s a different story when Buzzfeed publishes material it even admits is questionable.
Now enter CNN.
CNN alluded to similar documents, but after Buzzfeed received heavy criticism for the article, CNN distanced itself from the publication. CNN even went as far as suggesting Buzzfeed was not the source. CNN Anchor Anderson Cooper tried cornering Senior Adviser to President-elect Trump, Kellyanne Conway, claiming that his network never reported on the documents leaked by BuzzFeed.
This is false however, as CNN reported the very same day as Buzzfeed’s story on the dossier.
According to CNN, information was presented to President Obama that the Russian government had information on President-elect Trump. The breaking news story discussed a two page summary of memos and documents that raised concerns of connections between the incoming Republican President-elect and the Russian government. The documents, as noted by the CNN segment, came from a former British intelligence officer who was hired to investigate the President-elect.
Since these documents have leaked, an intense debate surrounding journalistic ethics has erupted. This is because the documents have not been verified by intelligence sources and appear to be wild speculation. Because of the unverified authenticity, leaking the damaging documents gives the appearance that they are legitimate and thus have been taken as such.
Buzzfeed has come under heavy criticism for their reckless reporting and lack of respect for journalistic ethics. CNN has evidently attempted to distance themselves, as demonstrated by Cooper’s exchange with Conway. But as a January 10 segment from the network shows, CNN did in fact report on the documents and portrayed them as news, even though there was apparently no attempt made to authenticate them.
The mainstream media has always been seen by conservatives as biased, but the hysteria erupting as people grow more paranoid about President-elect Trump is pushing networks like CNN and publications like Buzzfeed further into a state of desperation. These developments are deeply disturbing.