Last week Buzzfeed broke the internet in a way Kim Kardashian never dreamed possible by publishing the now infamous unverified document regarding Donald Trump’s affinity for Russian prostitutes and golden showers, shortly after CNN had released its own report claiming classified documents proved Russia had “compromising information” on the president-elect. The reports sent Trump into a tailspin, causing him to lash out at CNN’s Jake Acosta at his press conference the following day, lumping CNN in with Buzzfeed and calling both outlets “fake news.”
Sunday morning, Buzzfeed’s editor-in-chief Ben Smith stopped by CNN to chat with Brian Stelter to discuss the way each media outlet had respectively decided to handle the reporting of the documents, and things at times got pretty heated between the two men.
Stelter pulled no punches starting off the interview by asking Smith if he now regretted leaking the document. “No absolutely not,” Smith answered. “We’re proud we published it and I feel, three days later, it seems clear that it was the right thing to do, if you look at how much more we know than we did three days ago, and I think in three months it’ll look even clearer.”
When later pressed on whether or not it was the right decision, noting that CNN had been careful not to share the details of the claims, Smith continued to defend Buzzfeed’s decision.
To say, you and I have here between us, a secret document with explosive, dark claims, and you guys on the other side of the camera can’t see it but we can? I guess I’m sort of interested actually, because I see the case for reporting it out and not sharing it, I see the case for saying ‘Here are these claims, here is this document at the center of the fight, take a look’ — I think I actually don’t see the case for the middle position — I realize you’re not a spokesman for CNN…
To that last point Stelter quickly fired back, “The middle position is journalism.” The two continued to bicker it out for the remainder of the interview — which can be seen in full below — however it seems that the consensus remains to be “agree to disagree.”