CNN sought to distance its reporting on President-elect Donald Trump from an article published by BuzzFeed shortly after he blasted both news organizations during his first press conference since the election.
Both BuzzFeed and CNN went public with reports on Tuesday that a British intelligence official had compiled memos indicating that Russian officials might have compromising information about Trump. But while CNN merely said President Obama and Donald Trump had been briefed on a summary of the information, BuzzFeed published a 35-page dossier that included explosive personal allegations against the president-elect.
Trump dismissed both the CNN and BuzzFeed reports during his press conference, and shouted down a question from CNN’s Jim Acosta, calling the broadcast outlet “fake news.”
Shortly after the press conference, CNN released a statement distinguishing itself from BuzzFeed, calling its decision “to publish carefully sourced reporting about the operations of our government vastly different than Buzzfeed’s decision to publish unsubstantiated memos.”
Trump team knows this. They are using Buzzfeed’s decision to deflect from CNN’s reporting, which has been matched by the other major news organizations. We are fully confident in our reporting. It represents the core of what the First Amendment protects, informing the people of the inner workings of their government; in this case, briefing materials prepared for President Obama and President-elect Trump last week. We made it clear that we were not publishing any of the details of the 35-page document because we have not corroborated the report’s allegations.
In an interview with The Huffington Post Wednesday, BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith said that he would not “participate in an attempt to divide the media against each other.”
Editor @BuzzFeedBen tells me they’re “not going to participate in an attempt to divide the media against each other” following CNN criticism
— Michael Calderone (@mlcalderone) January 11, 2017
CNN concluded its statement by challenging the Trump team to identify specific inaccuracies in the report.
“Given that members of the Trump transition team have so vocally criticized our reporting, we encourage them to identify, specifically, what they believe to be inaccurate.”
Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of Poynter.org. He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism innovation, business practices and ethics. He’s also reported for USA TODAY College and The Sacramento Bee, and he was editor in chief of The Orion, Chico State’s student-run newspaper. An Air Force brat who grew up around Northern California, he’s still adjusting to the Florida sunshine.