Twitter has been set alight by a sudden twist in a BuzzFeed story that claimed to have proof that President Donald Trump directly instructed his former attorney, Michael Cohen, to lie before Congress on his plans to build a hotel in Moscow that would have seen him meeting Russian officials.
After the “bombshell” was picked up (to a great extent uncritically) by the mainstream media, which floated impeachment through a legion of ever-ready pundits, the scoop was busted by the office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller himself.
Today, Washington Post / MSNBC contributor @Eugene_Robinson described the Buzzfeed reporters as great reporters and called for POTUS to be impeached over the now debunked Buzzfeed story. #RIPJournalism
— Arthur Schwartz (@ArthurSchwartz) January 19, 2019
If Buzzfeed breaks it, doesn’t that typically mean that NBC, CBS, ABC, the New York Times and the Washington Post didnt find it credible enough to run and passed on it?
— Tim Young (@TimRunsHisMouth) January 18, 2019
Mueller’s spokesman, Peter Carr, said that the “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.”
Conservative political columnist Ann Coulter, Trump’s son Donald Junior, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, and NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch all tore into BuzzFeed, along with thousands of less high-profile Trump supporters, getting the #RIPBuzzfeed hashtag going.
Breaking Wind from CNN! Buzzfeed will change it’s name to “Buzzard Feed” because it proudly stands by its discredited, un-sourced, and utterly laughable Fake News about @realDonaldTrump so even after rebuke by Mueller it eats dead, rotted flesh of the roadkill of their story.
— Gov. Mike Huckabee (@GovMikeHuckabee) January 19, 2019
Respectfully suggest “BuzzFeed” change its name to “RoadKill”
— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) January 19, 2019
If the media does not spend — minute for minute — the same amount of time on the death of the latest #FakeNews from @BuzzFeed (RIP) that they did speculating about “IF IT’S TRUE 😱!” then they should quit even pretending to be unbiased. What a disgrace. #RIPbuzzfeed
— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) January 19, 2019
Gone all day and come back to see Buzzfeed did the ethical equivalent of sticking its hand into a blender. Good grief. https://t.co/2K3W4LyyDg
— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) January 19, 2019
Facing a torrent of mockery and derision, BuzzFeed chose to stand by its claims. BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith called on Mueller to clarify what exactly he had denied. “We stand by our reporting and the sources who informed it,” he tweeted.
In response to the statement tonight from the Special Counsel’s spokesman: We stand by our reporting and the sources who informed it, and we urge the Special Counsel to make clear what he’s disputing.
— Ben Smith (@BuzzFeedBen) January 19, 2019
Some mainstream media, like the Washington Post and the New York Times, have been pouring cold water on the report (using unnamed sources of their own).
MSNBC’s Chris Matthews argued that the fact the report is inaccurate “does not mean it is not true,”while NBC’s Ken Dilanian said Mueller denied only that part of the report that said he had obtained Trump organization documents supporting the allegations.
Mueller: BuzzFeed article is not accurate.
Chris Matthews: Not accurate doesn’t mean it’s not true.
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) January 19, 2019
Dilanian, however, later admitted that he “was interpreting the pushback too narrowly.”
Update: I now believe I was interpreting this pushback too narrowly. The statement is less than clear but it appears Mueller is refuting the entire premise of the Buzzfeed story, including the idea that Trump instructed Cohen to lie. https://t.co/6GyluFAXkz
— Ken Dilanian (@KenDilanianNBC) January 19, 2019
The Washington Post shared that sentiment, reporting that Mueller’s statement “aims to make clear that none of those statements in the story are accurate,” while citing “people familiar with the matter.”
WaPo talked to “people familiar with the matter” who say that these are the specific claims in the BuzzFeed story that Mueller’s office is disputing: https://t.co/vRvhE8XRnM pic.twitter.com/sMFedGLnP7
— Peter Sterne (@petersterne) January 19, 2019
The New York Times also debunked the story, citing a person familiar with Cohen’s testimony, who told them that the disgraced former lawyer “never implied the president had pressured him to lie to Congress.”
New York Times throws a bit of cold water on BuzzFeed’s explosive — and now seriously challenged — report that Trump instructed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress: https://t.co/9N7MiHs7et pic.twitter.com/7FJFT9D8fW
— ErikWemple (@ErikWemple) January 19, 2019
Trump has used the apparent fiasco by the publication to bring up “the totally discredited” Steele Dossier which BuzzFeed published in January 2017. “A very sad day for journalism, but a great day for our Country!” Trump tweeted.
Remember it was Buzzfeed that released the totally discredited “Dossier,” paid for by Crooked Hillary Clinton and the Democrats (as opposition research), on which the entire Russian probe is based! A very sad day for journalism, but a great day for our Country!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 19, 2019
While multiple outlets were busy distancing themselves from the red-faced BuzzFeed, lone voices from the anti-Trump resistance crowd, almost drowned out by the avalanche of mockery, jumped to its defense.
There are literally tens of thousands of accurate articles out there about you . There is an inaccuracy in this article which is not specified we and you are immediately jumping on BuzzFeed and trying to discredit the entire media. Sickening
— Brian Krassenstein (@krassenstein) January 19, 2019
Some suggested that the zeal with which the mainstream media ganged up on BuzzFeed is a clumsy attempt to save face.
currently watching the MSM saying that – now – they were ALL skeptical of the Buzzfeed fiasco. nope: most repeatedly used the phrase “bombshell,” breathlessly, hopefully. Now they will bury those stories.
— GregGutfeld (@greggutfeld) January 19, 2019
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