NBC News host Chuck Todd invited on Buzzfeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith to discuss his decision to publish the unverified, salacious, and now partly debunked 35-page dossier documenting a supposed years-long Russian plot to blackmail Donald Trump — and ended up proving that the leftwing establishment media's attempt to use "fake news" as a means of silencing conservative media has officially blown up in their faces.
Todd called out Smith on having just published what his own site and the rest of his colleagues on the Left have been decrying ever since Trump vanquished The Candidate of Choice in an historic upset: "fake news."
"I know this was not your intent — I’ve known you a long time — but you just published fake news," said Todd, adding, "Why is that an unfair description?"
As Buzzfeed has done since the story has collapsed, Smith stood by their decision to publish what other outlets have rightly determined over the last year was not worthy of publication. His main argument: the American people should be able to read the salacious, unconfirmed report he and others got to read and be allowed to figure out whether or not it has any newsworthiness themselves.
"I think people love to throw the term 'fake news' around to diminish anything they don’t like," Smith replied. "But I think 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, okay for John McCain, okay for the CIA, why is it not okay for your audience?"
Todd ultimately smacked that line of reasoning down, saying such "transparency" can turn into a "crutch" that devolves into "laziness."
"The job of the reporter is we’re doing our best to find truth," said Todd. "At the end of the day, it’s the best truth we can have and you are…you made a knowing decision to put out an untruth or at least something you hadn’t proven true yet."
Another one of Smith's arguments that he floated during his defense: the pathologically dishonest Democrat leader Harry Reid once sent a letter to the FBI referring to the blackmail allegations. HotAir's John Sexton notes that even this defense is "misleading":
Harry Reid did send a letter to the FBI back in October which stated, “it has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government.” At the time, the Washington Post called this allegation “remarkable.”
Reid did not specify what form this explosive information took. He certainly didn’t state that it was an unverified private dossier based on Russian sources. But the main point is that Harry Reid is an admitted liar who will say anything to advance his partisan agenda with reckless disregard for the truth. In a way, it’s perfect that BuzzFeed is using former Senator Reid to justify its publication of the document. This is exactly the kind of sleazy political hit in which Reid specialized.