Boy, when I decided to go to a Monday-Wednesday-Friday format for posts, I thought there would be days where it would be pretty damn hard to find news stories. So far… it couldn’t be easier to find stories to talk about. However, the main topic today is something that really made my blood boil… so let’s just dive into it.
‘A failing pile of garbage’
Buzzfeed took the world by storm last night when it decided to publish an over 30-page dossier of scurrilous allegations against Donald Trump. This story has grabbed my attention mainly because of the ethics surrounding the situation.
These allegations are unverified. So to many, this is grounds for not publishing any information regarding the dossier. Buzzfeed decided to publish it anyway. A funny thing happened after Buzzfeed published: other journalists came out and said they have had the same information but didn’t publish because they could not verify the information. So why did Buzzfeed think it did the right thing? Well, here is Ben Smith’s letter to staff after the story was published:
“Publishing this dossier reflects how we see the job of reporters in 2017.” Buzzfeed is trying to set the stage for journalism after its pretty crappy 2016. However, this precedent sets journalism up for failure. Publishing without verification is nothing short of irresponsible and is what led to the ‘fake news’ phenomena that we currently see. Buzzfeed is saying “hey, we’ll publish whatever, you decide if you believe it or not.” Buzzfeed’s readership consists of a lot of demographics… but I’m assuming the bulk of their readership are young, impressionable minds. What does this precedent do to them? Their education may not be where it needs to be to make that informed decision after they read an unverified document on Buzzfeed. There should be reasonable expectation that information published on a site like Buzzfeed be true. If this is the new lifestyle for Buzzfeed, it has become a terrible source for news (they had been getting on my better side, recently) and given other media outlets a bad name by association in a time where trust in media is already at an all-time low and journalists need to find ways to earn back the trust of the public.
Buzzfeed lost any credibility it had gained in the past few months from me (and many others from what I’ve seen.) It’s crazy to see someone make that kind of managerial decision that affected so much.
Anyway… let’s talk about the ramifications of this in today’s press conference with the President-elect!
A Tale of Two Speeches
Before we get into the dumpster fire, let’s talk about President Obama’s farewell speech last night. I was never the biggest fan of President Obama. I disagreed with him on a number of issues but I respected him as a leader. It’s also undeniable that he is a fantastic public speaker. Both of these characteristics shined brightly last night. He spoke of unity and wishing the best of luck to the next administration. It was a hopeful speech.. although his audience may not have seen it that way.. they chanted “4 more years” because they really don’t want to have Donald Trump as their next President. He also spoke very highly of his wife, Michelle, which made some people I know tear up a little bit (I’m not one to cry over political speeches.. so it didn’t do much for me.) No matter what you may have thought of the last 8 years, there are certain aspects of Barack that you cannot deny are admirable and will be missed in the next few days.
The official “Hamilton” Youtube page posted this video after Obama’s speech… which seemed fitting. I liked it because it was a new Hamilton performance that I hadn’t seen yet.
Now… let’s contrast that with President-elect Trump’s first press conference in 167 days…
It’s hard to talk about this without really diving into the politics of all of this and starting partisan arguments… but that press conference was one of the worst things I have ever watched when it comes to politics… which is saying something because I’ve watched more of the Cabinet confirmation hearings than I care to admit.
Anyway… where do I begin with this speech? Do I start with Sean Spicer coming on stage and calling out Buzzfeed (Trump called the outlet a ‘failing pile of garbage’) and CNN for being fake news? Do I start with Trump’s lack of good public speaking skills? (“We have much hacking going on” is a sentence he said.) Or do I start with his back-and-forth with a CNN reporter when the reporter wanted to respond to the allegations that Trump brought before CNN?
As you might have guessed, most of the questions focused around the Buzzfeed report and Russia. The reporters present really wanted to get to the bottom of Russia and get some real answers about it. However, this lead to multipart questions that sometimes had 4,5 parts to them. Note to reporters: STOP DOING THIS! This only gives Trump an out to forget one of your questions and just focus on one of them and then go off on a talking point tangent.
There are many other topics that Trump needs to be questioned on… but thanks to the recent news cycle… all anyone wanted to know about was Russia.. and Trump wanted to slam “fake news” outlets.
I also found it funny that Trump said he liked the outlets that didn’t publish anything about the dossier. “Hey! I like you when you don’t write anything negative about me!”
On a different beat, Trump called out the intelligence committee right off the top of his speech and brought into question if it were an inside job… which is very dangerous rhetoric… but again… so is this:
Finally, I wonder how Trump plans on doing so much in the first couple of weeks in office. He plans on repealing and replacing Obamacare and naming a nominee to the Supreme Court within the first couple of weeks. I really doubt his knowledge on how long things like these that take. Not only that, he refused to give specifics on what he’d replace Obamacare with or who he is looking at for a Supreme Court nominee.
Also, to clear things up, there is a clear distinction between what CNN did compared to Buzzfeed. CNN reported that Obama and Trump were briefed by the intelligence committee about the dossier. Buzzfeed published the dossier without verifying its legitimacy. You cannot say what CNN did is comparable to what Buzzfeed did. If anything… Buzzfeed took what CNN said as enough evidence to go ahead and publish the document.
I could go on and on about last night’s and today’s events.. but I’d probably get myself into trouble if I continued. So I’ll wrap it up here.
Tomorrow will be an interesting day.. and not because of politics. Nintendo will be holding a conference to talk about its new console, the Switch. I’ll be covering that conference for Brashgames.com. So be sure to check that out late tomorrow night. I’ll also post more personal reaction here (time permitting) on the whole event. It may turn into my whole Friday post if I don’t have the time after all of that work. It’ll all be fun nonetheless and a nice change of pace from the crap that happened the past two days.
Let me know what you liked, didn’t like or what you’d like to see. Be sure to follow me on Twitter @RyanFinfrock.