Speed Reads


Watch Kellyanne Conway and Anderson Cooper's riveting fight over Trump and Russia

On Wednesday, President-elect Donald Trump and his incoming press secretary, Sean Spicer, conflated CNN's report about unverified intelligence presented to Trump about Russian blackmail material on him and BuzzFeed's publishing of the entire unsubstantiated dossier. Anderson Cooper began his heated and entertaining interview with Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway by futilely asking for clarification: "Do you acknowledge here and now that CNN did not release the 35-page unsubstantiated claims against Donald Trump and it was misleading and untrue for Sean Spicer to suggest otherwise?" She would not. "CNN went first yesterday," Conway said, "and BuzzFeed went second."

"We didn't report what BuzzFeed reported," Cooper protested. Conway said that CNN's headline on Tuesday "is just false," and to prove it she cited "NBC News reports" and "tweets from people at Politico." Cooper pointed out the NBC News article just says the dossier summary was not verbally presented to Trump, something CNN did not assert. "Anderson, CNN went first and had this breathless report, you know, everybody said it was a 'bombshell,'" Conway said, and when Cooper noted that CNN never referred to it as a bombshell, Conway said that Seth Meyers had called it that on Late Night.

"What you're saying doesn't make sense," Cooper told Conway. "On the one hand you're saying our reporting is inaccurate, on the other hand you're saying you don't know if it was in the intelligence briefing and you can't say even if you did know." "I can tell you credible news reports today say it was not in there," she replied. "An NBC News report based on one source," Cooper said. "And what is yours based on?" Conway asked. "Multiple sources, and The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal as well say it," Cooper said.

"I get why politically it makes sense for you to link CNN to what BuzzFeed did," Cooper said, but it's apples and oranges. Conway argued that CNN is complicit because a story on its website linked to the BuzzFeed article, and "I think if you link to something on your website, you're reporting it." She never did say what CNN got wrong, but she did find a way to tie up loose ends. "CNN and BuzzFeed have a lot in common," she said, because "you both were absolutely convinced and told all of your viewers that Hillary Clinton was going to win this election."