01/12/17 - Photos 1  

Ben Smith's journalistic standard: If it hurts Trump, publish it!

Aaron Rossiter | 1/12/17 | 12:46PM


Ben Smith is an undisputed member of the journalistic establishment. Ben Smith once worked for Politico as one of its most pronounced reporters. In 2014, the Hollywood Reporter listed Smith as one of the thirty-five most powerful reporters in New York media. With connections within the media that any reporter would envy, Smith no doubt has the clout to push a story into the mainstream of American news media.


In the past two days, Ben Smith attempted to spearhead an attempt to defame and discredit President-Elect Donald Trump just before his inauguration. Smith chose to publish through Buzzfeed unsubstantiated reports of the existence of an anti-Trump dossier that, if accurate and existing, would have demonstrated that Trump could have been blackmailed by Russia to cover up highly salacious sexual activities. There was absolutely no evidence to support the report. CNN reported that US intelligence have a a two-page report detailing incriminating information that Russia could use to blackmail Trump.

Russia said the reports were false. Trump emphatically denied the reports stating that CNN and BuzzFeed are fake news.

BuzzFeed has been roundly criticized both by Trump supporters and the rest of the media. CNN has claimed that it did not do what BuzzFeed did, specifically, publish the details in the dossier. But CNN did substantially raise the profile of the BuzzFeed story with its report.


What BuzzFeed published was propaganda in that it was false information that promoted the political goal of harming Trump. They are now using this propaganda to profiteer by selling shirts with the label, "failing pile of garbage." Trump called BuzzFeed this in the press conference yesterday.


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BuzzFeed's deceptive hit piece has been widely criticized. Even the New York Times, a media source that has professed to journalists that they should take an oppositional stance to Trump as a matter of course, has strongly criticized BuzzFeed. The executive editor of the New York Times said the paper would not publish the details in the dossier because the allegations were "totally unsubstantiated."

Glenn Greenwald, a very liberal journalist who is no fan of Trump, really sunk the knife into BuzzFeed's credibility. He wrote, "It’s almost impossible to imagine a scenario where it’s justifiable for a news outlet to publish a totally anonymous, unverified, unvetted document filled with scurrilous and inflammatory allegations about which its own editor-in-chief says┬áthere “is serious reason to doubt the allegations,” on the ground that they want to leave it to the public to decide whether to believe it."


For journalism, it doesn't get any worse than this in a free nation. If journalists actually wanted to police their own industry in the interest of acting on their claimed role as guardians of the First Amendment, Ben Smith would be shamed into resigning. He published a story about the soon-to-be President of the United States designed to undermine his ability to govern the country.

He did this with wholly unsubstantiated reports while implicitly relying on his credibility as a journalist. He also professed this type of reporting by writing that he decided to publish this because it comports with the proper role for reporters in 2017. Based on this statement, he seems to be saying that if it is potentially hurtful to Trump it ought to be published, regardless of the truth behind the allegations. This approaches defamation of a public figure. If the facts were known to be false and severe damage intended, it would be defamation of a public figure.

Clearly, Smith believes the media has a responsibility to stop Donald Trump by any means necessary. He is attempting to undermine a President with false reporting and has destroyed the credibility of news media in general in the minds of many. He is a disgrace to his profession and his country and he should apologize and resign.

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