Over the last few days, the mainstream media breathlessly repeated BuzzFeed’s bombshell report which claimed that President Donald Trump directed his former attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about plans to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, citing unnamed sources.
At last, it seemed, special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation had dug up real evidence of Russian collusion. Except for one problem: Mueller has now publicly stated that the report is “not accurate.”
Mueller vs. Buzzfeed
“BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the Special Counsel’s Office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s Congressional testimony are not accurate,” said Mueller’s spokesman Peter Carr.
Mueller’s statement gains extra significance in light of the fact that he has largely avoided responding to the media since he began his investigation. His choice to break silence now indicates strong disapproval of the BuzzFeed report.
BuzzFeed, however, is not backing down.
“In response to the statement tonight from the Special Counsel’s spokesman,” said BuzzFeed Editor-In-Chief Ben Smith. “We stand by our reporting and the sources who informed it, and we urge the Special Counsel to make clear what he’s disputing.”
Unfortunately for BuzzFeed, that’s going to be a hard position to stand by when the person disputing the story is the alleged source of the story.
While BuzzFeed isn’t ready to admit its smoking gun is shooting blanks, CNN has already issued a somber retraction.
“Today is a bad day for us. It reinforces every bad stereotype about the news media,” CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin said in response to the Mueller statement.
Indeed, the mainstream media has frequently had to backtrack “bombshell” news reports after being too eager to publish negative news about the president.
The media’s debunked stories have ranged from petty jabs, such as the claim that a Martin Luther King Jr. bust was removed from the White House, to serious foreign policy matters, such as when the Associated Press spread a misleading report that Trump was considering a military invasion of Mexico. In the latter case, even though the AP report admitted that Mexico disagreed with its interpretation, that didn’t stop BuzzFeed from sharing the story on Twitter with the caption, “WOW.”
Responding to this latest in a long string of fake news, Trump minced no words: “I think that the BuzzFeed piece was a disgrace to our country. It was a disgrace to journalism.”