BuzzFeed editor Ben Smith defends decision to publish Trump Russia file, rejects 'fake news' label

BuzzFeed editor Ben Smith and NBC host Chuck Todd spar over Fake News
(Image credit: MSNBC/YouTube)

BuzzFeed News has gotten a lot of pushback for publishing an unverified, at least partly wrong dossier put together by a former British MI6 spy suggesting Russia has compromising material on President-elect Donald Trump, who called BuzzFeed a "failing pile of garbage" on Wednesday for publishing the "fake news." NBC political director Chuck Todd didn't necessarily disagree with Trump, and told BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith so on MTP Daily Wednesday evening.

"You talk about context and you talk about putting responsibility on the readers, but at the same time, don't you have the responsibility of not spreading false information?" Todd asked. "I know this was not your intent — I've known you a long time — but you just published fake news." Smith disagreed. "I think people love to throw the phrase 'fake news' around to diminish anything they don't like," he said, "but this was a real story about a real document that was really being passed around between the very top officials of this country. And then the question you say is, okay — it's okay for you, Chuck Todd, to see this document, it's okay for me to see it, it's okay for John McCain, okay for the CIA — why is not okay for your audience?"

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Peter Weber, The Week US

Peter has worked as a news and culture writer and editor at The Week since the site's launch in 2008. He covers politics, world affairs, religion and cultural currents. His journalism career began as a copy editor at a financial newswire and has included editorial positions at The New York Times Magazine, Facts on File, and Oregon State University.