Sunday on CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” host Brian Stelter debated BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith over BuzzFeed News’ decision to publish an unverified dossier about President-elect Donald Trump and Russia.
Partial transcript as follows:
STELTER: Were you trying to just get clicks?
SMITH: I think Sean quoted me in saying it was unverified. There’s obviously an attempt right now to divide the press, to turn us on each other and turn reasonable differences about editorial decisions into screaming matches between us on this show. I think that’s a trap that the media has repeatedly fallen into over the last couple of years. I think it’s better not to right now.
STELTER: There’s a tension between there’s reasons to have unity and the other hand as Jake Tapper said what you did is irresponsible and that hurts us all.
SMITH: I wouldn’t say it was irresponsible to say we have a secret document and we’re not going to share it. I would disagree with that but I think it’s a reasonable thought.
STELTER: It’s not possible to have unity in the press corps if Buzzfeed is acting more like Wikileaks just dumping material on the internet and telling the audience to decide if it’s true or not.
SMITH: I think we reported a very important story —
STELTER: there’s a difference between publishing and reporting.
SMITH: We explained the origin of the document. we described the extent to which it was accurate and inaccurate and we shared information that was being — by the way that not just the head of the CIA, dozens if not hundreds of journalists, intelligence officials, elected leaders were seeing and acting on. I do think when you have a document in that kind of circulation among the country’s elites at the center of an incredibly heated political battle, the argument of keeping it away from the American people has to be really really strong.
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