Buzzfeed Throws Shade, Lands in Spotlight Instead

Samantha Liu ‘22

Buzzfeed News recently dropped a bomb on the entire investigation of Donald Trump’s involvement with Russia, claiming President Trump instructed former lawyer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress. The magnitude of Buzzfeed’s allegations resounded when Robert Mueller’s office publicly responded to the press for the first time in twenty months to deny these claims.

Trump’s alleged involvement has undergone heavy scrutiny, with the special counsel arriving at the conclusion that Cohen told Congress that negotiations regarding Trump Tower Moscow ended in January. In reality, talks continued well into June of 2016 in an attempt to quell suspicion regarding Russian involvement in the previous presidential election. While Cohen already pled guilty to lying under oath and currently faces three years in prison, Buzzfeed’s article has heavier implications. Its report is the first to allege that Trump himself personally oversaw Cohen’s false testimony.

The implications of this are groundbreaking, as the president’s criminal acts could be of high enough stakes for impeachment. Buzzfeed’s publication preceded a frenzy of investigations by Democrats until Mueller himself broke his code of silence and issued a personal statement to publicly deny all of Buzzfeed’s claims. Since then, his office has been debating the report point by point and attempting to disprove investigators’ comments. Presidential attorney Rudolph Giuliani tweeted at Buzzfeed to reveal their sources, followed by his go-to tag #FAKENEWS.

Unfortunately, Buzzfeed stands alone, refusing to disclose its sources. One of the two reporters responsible for the article, Anthony Cormier, asserted that the piece is entirely true. Since then, no other news sources or journalists have corroborated Buzzfeed’s story. The company still struggles to establish its position as a legitimate news source, largely because most still use it solely for daily memes, quizzes, and Tasty videos. Cormier’s partner, Jason Leopold, also has a spotty record as a journalist, with a notable lack of accuracy in his reporting. However, Mueller’s public statement and further investigation imply that something larger is going on. Alexis Zhao ’22 emphasizes that it would be “

Regardless of what actually went down in Washington, Buzzfeed’s report reminds the country that the media is far from perfect and that everything online can be incredibly ambiguous. It raises pertinent questions about what constitutes news. The twenty-first century is rife with fake news and clickbait culture and is the only era where a website infamous for revealing to users what kind of potato they are can also be the leading allegation in a potential impeachment. For journalists, this is a warning to conduct all future investigations in the Trump case painstakingly and rigorously. For the people, this is a warning that we must proceed carefully through this media-dominated world, getting all the facts before believing anything.