President-elect Donald Trump has accused BuzzFeed News of running a "fake news" article. His critics claim the "debunker" by Lifezette magazine is itself a "fake news" site.
On Wednesday Trump tweeted a link to this story on the website of Lifezette, to his 19.4 million followers.
Prior to this, on Wednesday morning he had tweeted an all caps accusation that the story was 'fake news'.
The BuzzFeed Article
The Buzzfeed article included a report which details "perverted sexual acts" involving prostitutes alleged to have taken place in a hotel room in Moscow.
According to Buzzfeed, Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen called this a "fake story" and denied its veracity.
BuzzFeed’s article has already been viewed over 2 million times.
Ahead of the claims made in a “dossier” which BuzzFeed chose to publish in full, was this disclaimer.
A dossier, compiled by a person who has claimed to be a former British intelligence official, alleges Russia has compromising information on Trump. The allegations are unverified, and the report contains errors.
The report conceded that some of the documents in the dossier were “unverified” and also that some were – in BuzzFeed’s estimation – “unverifiable”.
On Tuesday CNN reported that a two page summary of this unverified dossier had been given to President Obama and President-elect Trump.
On Wednesday morning Buzzfeed's editor-in-chief Ben Smith tweeted this image of a message he had sent to staff regarding the story.
The Lifezette Article
Visitors to Lifezette are greeted with this pop-up, claiming these articles are currently trending.
The metrics they have used to qualify these are “trending” has not been specified, but they include several articles that appear to be paid for content.
Tropes include “Look how old this celebrity got,” “This is the derivation of your surname – come do a family tree,” and “Dress better”.
In their article, Lifezette referred to BuzzFeed as a “Left-leaning news outlet” and accused them of abandoning “journalistic ethics”.
The online news site BuzzFeed on Tuesday published a letter containing salacious allegations – which even the left-leaning outlet acknowledged are unverified – against President-elect Donald Trump.
Lifezette criticised BuzzFeed’s decision to publishing the “full document so that Americans can make up their own minds about allegations about the president-elect.”, calling it a “breakdown of journalistic ethics”.
In January Donald Trump signalled he concurred with Wiki-Leaks founder Julian Assange on the "very dishonest" US media.
Lifezette cited condemnation from other media outlets, such as Mother Jones’ Washington bureau chief David Corn:
Corn was referenced in the BuzzFeed article, as someone who himself had made reference to the contents of their dossier in an article he wrote October 2016.
Is Lifezette “fake”?
Kevin Collier, a writer for Vocativ has claimed that Lifezette is itself a fake news website, and therefore Trump’s use of the article to attack BuzzFeed is ironic.
In a follow up, Collier provided a link to “The Intercept”, which accused Lifezette of being a fake news website in November 2016.
According to The Intercept, Lifezette is published by Laura Ingraham’s company Ingraham Media Group.
Ingraham is a conservative radio host, a Trump ally, one of 41 accounts Trump follows on Twitter - she was also a candidate for the post of White House Press Secretary before it was ultimately awarded to Sean Spicer.
In addition to this alleged conflict of interest, Intercept also listed several instances of “news” reported on Lifezette which was verifiably untrue; such as a theory that the Clinton family were somehow involved in the plane crash death of John F Kennedy Jr.
Similarly, in a video on Lifezette’s Facebook the outlet reported alleged claims of election tampering by Clinton advisor George Soros. In the video they stated that voting machines “might be compromised” because Soros had purchased voting machine producers “Smartmatic”. Soros never bought Smartmatic, and Smartmatic did not provide machines for the 2016 general election.
If not fake, then "bias" is certainly applicable.