Unscrupulous reporting: BuzzFeed’s ‘Russiagate’ stories were constant source of controversy
BuzzFeed’s credibility has been seemingly dented by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s recent dismissal of one of its ‘Russiagate’ stories. However, it is not the first time its stories on Russia raised flags or were proven false.
The New York-based news outlet has been holding nothing back over the recent years as it diligently pressed the so-called ‘Russiagate’ narrative about a supposed collusion between the US President Donald Trump and Moscow. Its recent exploits, which claimed Trump told his ex-lawyer, Michael Cohen, to lie to Congress to cover up some of his dealings with Russia, however, apparently led it a bit too far, as it earned a rebuke from the office of Robert Muller – the man in charge of the investigation into the very same alleged collusion, among other aspects of perceived Russia’s meddling into the 2016 elections.
'After this I don’t even know if I can trust Buzzfeed’s cat listicles anymore' https://t.co/b4vyIKJAUL— RT (@RT_com) 19 января 2019 г.
The news sparked a wave of criticism on the social media, with many people saying that the news outlet’s credibility is now discredited.
But was it that flawless before?
Buzzfeed was the first to publish the infamous Steele dossier – a report by an MI6 spy-turned-private investigator – which contained unverified allegations that Russia held information on Trump which it was using to blackmail the US president. It also alleged sustained and close working contacts between Trump aides and Kremlin representatives.
None of these allegations, which were used by the FBI as a reason for obtaining a spy warrant against Trump adviser Carter Page, have been proven as of now. Instead, it was revealed that the report was based on information fed through people close to Hillary Clinton – Trump’s rival at the 2016 presidential elections.Also on rt.com What evidence? BuzzFeed fuels ‘Russiagate’ with bombshell report on Trump and Cohen
Meanwhile, some of the reporters, who worked with the dossier, admitted that the document’s claims are “likely false.” Christopher Steele himself also revealed that one of his goals in compiling the report was to provide Clinton with a legal basis to challenge the 2016 election results.
The publication of the dossier has brought a string of defamation lawsuits not only against Steele but against BuzzFeed as well. The news media outlet was sued by the owners of a Russian Alfa Bank and a Russian tech expert Aleksey Gubarev who were all mentioned in the infamous dossier. At the same time, Trump’s personal lawyer also filed a defamation lawsuit against the company for pushing the Steele report.
However, Buzzfeed apparently does hope to get away with it. In case of Gubarev, a US court already ruled in favor of the news outlet in December 2018, citing a “fair report privilege.” The businessman earlier scolded the publication as “one of the most reckless and irresponsible moments in modern journalism.”
Steele was the source of another controversial episode in the history of BuzzFeed’s attempts to propagate the ‘Russiagate’ narrative. In March 2018, it claimed that the FBI was covering the true causes of the death of a Russian media tycoon in Washington in 2015.
Citing a “secret report” by Steele, it claimed the man was allegedly killed by associates of a Russian oligarch, who happens to be close to the Kremlin, the news outlet said. A sheer coincidence, apparently. It also did not bother to give any plausible explanation as to why the FBI, which did not hesitate to point a finger at Moscow in the past, would hide such information at all.
Anyway, the whole story was debunked just days later when the Metropolitan Police said the death of the tycoon was an accident. This fact did not get much attention in the West, though. Neither did it cool BuzzFeed’s ardor in stirring up anti-Russian hysteria.
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