CNN ‘fake news’, BuzzFeed ‘garbage’: Donald Trump attacks media houses in first presser

"Given that members of Donald Trump's transition team have so vocally criticized our reporting, we encourage them to identify, specifically, what they believe to be inaccurate,'' CNN said in a statement.

By: AP | Pasadena | Updated: January 12, 2017 1:57 pm
trump, donald trump, trump cnn, trump buzzfeed, trump first press conference, trump attacks media, trump and media, trump cnn fake, trump cnn, world news President-elect Donald Trump speaks during a news conference in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President-elect Donald Trump and his team on Wednesday attacked news organizations that spread unsubstantiated reports about a damaging dossier collected on him by Russia, an incident that illustrates how old rules of journalism are tested in today’s rapidly changing media world. Trump called BuzzFeed “a pile of garbage” for publishing the allegations and got into a spat with CNN’s Jim Acosta during his first news conference since July. He praised organizations that didn’t follow BuzzFeed’s lead.

The combative news conference, less than two weeks before Trump’s inauguration, was dominated by questions about Russia and the president-elect’s relationship with the intelligence community. CNN on Tuesday reported that Trump had been briefed by intelligence officials about compromising personal and financial information that Russia had collected on him. The network did not give details about the information, saying the charges had not been verified, but BuzzFeed soon published them. Most reputable news organizations, following up the story, also did not report the details.

Despite those decisions, it took only the single report for the news to spread so rapidly that within hours, one specific, salacious allegation was a top trending topic on Twitter. At his news conference, Trump set up a bad cop-good cop dynamic. Incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer and Vice President-elect Mike Pence both preceded Trump and sharply condemned those who spread the story. Spicer called BuzzFeed’s decision “outrageous and highly irresponsible,” while Pence said it was an effort by some in the media to delegitimize the election and discredit the incoming administration.

“The American people are sick and tired of it,” Pence said. Meanwhile, Trump credited The New York Times, a newspaper he’s often been at odds with, for its decision not to publish what it could not independently verify. Under questioning, he criticized both CNN and BuzzFeed. He said BuzzFeed is “going to suffer the consequences. I think they already are.”

He got into a sharp back-and-forth with Acosta, who said to the president-elect, “you are attacking our news organization. Can you give us a chance to ask the questions?” Trump told Acosta, “don’t be rude.”

“I am not going to give you a question,” he said. “You are fake news.” He later took a question about intelligence leaks from another CNN reporter, Jeremy Diamond. CNN’s Jake Tapper criticized Trump for conflating CNN and BuzzFeed, since CNN did not publish the specific allegations and BuzzFeed did. The network said reporting on the inner workings of government represented the core of what the First Amendment protects.

“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,” CNN said in a statement. CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Trump aide Kellyanne Conway engaged in a tense, circular discussion on that network Wednesday night on the issue. Conway said CNN gave BuzzFeed the imprimatur to move forward with its report; Cooper said CNN could not be held responsible for what other news organizations do.

Also read | I think Russia hacked Democrats: Donald Trump 

“I think it’s politics for you to try to link all the reporters together,” Cooper said. “It seems unfair and frankly disingenuous.” Conway said the Trump team gets no respect. “The media have a 16 percent approval rating for a reason,” she said. “It’s been earned.”

BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti on Wednesday clouded the issue by comparing BuzzFeed to other news organizations that made a very different decision on how to proceed with the story. “We were criticized by the incoming administration,” Peretti said. “We are not going to respond to these divisive comments, which put us in great company, by the way _ The New York Times, CNN and The Washington Post have all been attacked. So has Meryl Streep and the cast of `Hamilton,’ but we’d never compare ourselves to people that talented.”

BuzzFeed’s decision did revive what has become an increasingly common debate in the media world. News organizations can make very careful decisions about what to publish when they are not certain of the veracity of the information, but it only takes one rival with different standards to undermine those deliberations.

While admitting that some of the allegations may not be true, BuzzFeed editor Ben Smith explained that he wanted to publish the information so Americans can make up their own minds about allegations circulating throughout government. “People of good will may disagree with our choice,” he wrote. “But publishing this dossier reflects how we see the job of reporters in 2017.”

The Associated Press is among the news organizations that has been aware of the documents and has attempted to authenticate them. The AP determined publishing the details did not meet its criteria. “The purported sourcing was anonymous, which made it impossible for AP to determine if the sources were credible or in a position to know the facts about any allegations being made,” said John Daniszewski, vice president for standards and editor at large.

“After learning these documents were included in a high-level briefing to the president and the president-elect by intelligence officials, the AP decided it newsworthy to report their existence. However, it continues to refrain from reporting specific material that has not been verified or corroborated.”

Kelly McBride, a media ethicist for the Poynter Institute, compared BuzzFeed’s action to document dumps by websites like WikiLeaks. Smith “says that this is the job of reporters in 2017,” McBride said. “What I want to ask back is, `Where’s the reporting?’ The job of reporting is to actually report.”

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First Published on: January 12, 2017 10:08 am
  1. J
    Jay
    Jan 12, 2017 at 7:40 am
    Media all over the world, mainly in India, have become completely corrupt, serving their corrupt masters. Trump is right in calling a spade as spade. The fake "intolerance" campaign in India carried out by the corrupt media in India thoroughly exposed how corrupt the journalists are and how corrupt the "award vapsis" are.
    Reply
    1. M
      MyTake
      Jan 12, 2017 at 5:55 am
      In India Modi found plenty of news traders!
      Reply
      1. V
        Vanathi
        Jan 12, 2017 at 7:50 am
        In the Agusta Westland Corruption case, in which Con Party Italian mafia lady is the recipient of huge bribes, it appears the media houses have been paid more than 50 crores to suppress the scam. The Corrupt media is almost silent on the National Herald case, in which the Italian mafia lady and her son have appropriated over 5000 crores of property. Many scams have been suppressed by the corrupt media. There are three major categories of enemies to the nation: 1. Terrorists outside and Inside the country, 2. Corrupt Con Party that looted the country to the core through mega scams like 2G, Coalgate, CWG, National Herald, Agusta, etc., 3. Most Corrupt mainstream media which works for the above two categories.
        Reply
        1. M
          Mike
          Jan 12, 2017 at 5:33 am
          Trump made the US media look like a bunch of jokers
          Reply
          1. A
            Anand
            Jan 12, 2017 at 6:28 am
            no wonder the right wing Bhakts love donald trump ..lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;they have always had a strange fascination for Mutra . Cow or otherwise.
            Reply
            1. A
              Ananth
              Jan 12, 2017 at 9:45 am
              If you read them you wouldn't be surprised. For ages they have been always toeing certain lines to the dictates of the editorial policy of the particular outfit. None of them please underline none are really interested in disseminating News. All they give out is coloured suited to their country, policies or their personal whims and fancies. I wouldn't know today how much to trust even the then outputs of their celebrated columnists like James Reston or Walter Lippman.
              Reply
              1. A
                Ananth
                Jan 12, 2017 at 9:32 am
                We Indians can empathize with the President elect MrTrump, as the story in India is no different for the past 2.5 years. For more than a decade a smear campaign against Mr.Modi was launched by the so called main line news papers and visual media. They continue to do so. Modi has given them a wide berth by refusing to interact with them as well as call them any names. Whereas Mr.Trump has headlong launched himself, against similar setup in his Nation, as he feels he could secure his position despite their campaign. He now he feels he has a right to pay them in their own coin. That is the only difference though the situation is identical. Modi is only getting stronger day by day and the media can either introspect or continue to dig their own downfal and loss in trust worthiness.
                Reply
                1. A
                  Ananth
                  Jan 12, 2017 at 9:36 am
                  You perhaps have a fascination of different waste products.
                  Reply
                  1. K
                    krishna jha
                    Jan 12, 2017 at 5:03 am
                    we wish Mr. modi should do so to some media like Ndtv/Indian Express/ABP new and so on who paint every issue in name of BJP/RSS....
                    Reply
                    1. I
                      Indian
                      Jan 12, 2017 at 5:41 am
                      THEN STOP WATCHING THESE NEWS CHANNELS and STOP SURFING IE...SEE WHAT SUITES U BHAKTS LIKE ZEE NEWS.....
                      Reply
                      1. D
                        Deep
                        Jan 12, 2017 at 11:59 am
                        CNN is USA's NDTV.
                        Reply
                        1. G
                          g
                          Jan 12, 2017 at 8:11 pm
                          no wonder the left wing Comrades love extremism.lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;they have always had a strange fascination for mutra . Sonia's'
                          Reply
                          1. S
                            sangeeth
                            Jan 12, 2017 at 5:50 am
                            Frankly media is becoming brahmins. Brahmins believe that they are the father of God. Media seems to believe that they are the father of democracy. Ethics and morals apply equally to all is not seen to be a matter of discussion
                            Reply
                            1. S
                              Sanjay Kulkarni
                              Jan 12, 2017 at 10:23 am
                              CNN has lost all the credibility in USA. Why trust theses liars? They are filled with hatred for Mr Trump. It is better to ignore them completely.
                              Reply
                              1. S
                                Sanjay Kulkarni
                                Jan 12, 2017 at 10:20 am
                                Very rightly said.
                                Reply
                                1. O
                                  Ome
                                  Jan 12, 2017 at 8:28 am
                                  Mamata Bannerji of USA = Donald Trump.
                                  Reply
                                  1. T
                                    Thomas George
                                    Jan 12, 2017 at 11:42 am
                                    How can media suppress investigations by CBI and ED? All the activity in the 2G case happened when UPA was in power. Now, we hear nothing about it other than from people like you in the comments section. All that the Government has to do is to obtain evidence and prosecute the culprits. If that does not happen during the five years of BJP rule, we can infer one of the following. 1) The BJP Government is not interested in prosecuting and wants to keep the issue alive for political use 2) The CBI and ED are incompetent along with the administration. or 3) The Congress/UPA leaders are not involved in these scams. When the UPA was in power, all these scams occupied front page everyday -- if the media had suppressed it, do you think that the BJP would have won? Media goes after sensational news items, and there is nothing more sensational than allegations of high value corruption by politicians. The Sahara diaries will remain in news due to the same exact reason, not because the media wants to crucify Modi because they like Sonia.
                                    Reply
                                    1. T
                                      Thomas George
                                      Jan 12, 2017 at 11:43 am
                                      Who are these corrupt masters? It can't be the Congress because the media was relentless in their attack.
                                      Reply
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