Buzzfeed home page with question marks added.

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Have you heard the rumor about Donald Trump, Moscow hotel rooms, prostitutes, and “water-sports?” BuzzFeed did, and did what all good news organizations do: vetted it and … oh, who are we kidding?

Buzzfeed ran with an unsubstantiated rumor, published it, and drove the news cycle for 12 hours by taking “fake news” to its highest art form.

I talked about this in a CR Live on Facebook earlier today.

Here’s what all the commotion is about.

BuzzFeed publishes unverified ‘report’

Yesterday evening, BuzzFeed — the internet’s home for vacuous, viral content — published a blockbuster rumor about Donald Trump and the Russians. Their “reporting” consisted of publishing a supposed 35-page intelligence report, and saying “¯\_(ツ)_/¯.”

BuzzFeed’s editor-in-chief, Ben Smith, went so far as to circulate a memo via Twitter, that he sent to his team outlining the dubious nature of the claims.

To recap, Smith says, “There is serious reason to doubt the allegations. We have been chasing specific claims in this document for weeks, and will continue to.” In other words, we have practiced no journalism and consider ourselves to be a national watercooler.

Trump team’s pushback

The “unverified” report received swift and vigorous push back from Trump and his team. Trump himself blasted the “fake news” via Twitter.

Trump attorney and adviser Michael Cohen tweeted a picture of his passport. He did so because it was reported that he traveled to Prague to meet with Russian officials — a claim he vigorously denies.

Cohen’s story has been confirmed by the Washingtonian’s Elaina Plott.

Before the start of Trump’s press conference, spokesman Sean Spicer tore into the media.

Serious flaws with reporting

NBC News, whose parent company Comcast has a substantial equity stake in BuzzFeed, blasted significant holes in the BuzzFeed report.

This latest stunt by BuzzFeed highlights why it is imperative to not trust the inside-the-Beltway, East Coast crowd to determine what is and isn’t 'fake news.'

First they reported that Trump was never told about the supposed intelligence report during a briefing.

President-elect Donald Trump was not told about unverified reports that Russia has compromising information on him during last week's intelligence briefing, according to a senior intelligence official with knowledge of preparations for the briefing.

A summary of the unverified reports was prepared as background material for the briefing, but not discussed during the meeting, the official said. During Trump's press conference Wednesday morning, the president-elect said he was made aware of the information "outside that meeting."

The next paragraph goes to the heart of what the briefers are saying. There is no reason to believe Trump has been compromised, or is a “puppet” of Russia - a large part of BuzzFeed’s ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ “reporting.”

"Intel and law enforcement officials agree that none of the investigations have found any conclusive or direct link between Trump and the Russian government period," the senior official said.

Reading further into the NBC report will show that the material was made part of the briefing to try and show Trump the difference between vetted and unvetted “disinformation.” In effect, they were using an unvetted, false story about Trump to illustrate why some information is sometimes not vetted. The report went on to say that the briefers were also prepared to share an unvetted story about the Clinton Foundation to make the point.

This latest stunt by BuzzFeed highlights why it is imperative to not trust the inside-the-Beltway, East Coast crowd to determine what is and isn’t “fake news.” Because the self-appointed watchers are the ones creating significant amounts of it.

Finally, it may be time for BuzzFeed to hang up their attempts at “journalism” and stick to showing us what it would look like, “If Disney Princes Were Real.”

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