In the thousands of stories that have been written about Donald Trump, Russia and Robert Mueller, why did the BuzzFeed story raise such alarm? The special counsel’s office could issue a report card every day of the week for most accurate story, or most pinocchios. Why did this one call for a takedown? Is it just as simple as the story being wrong? It’s got to be more complicated than that and the day after there are as many theories as their are reporters with laptops. It boils down to a few possible scenarios.
- The story is completely inaccurate. Or enough of the story is not true to make team Mueller wince.
- Mueller has run a leak-proof ship, until this point. Perhaps he’s defending his operation. Most think the tip came from New York and not Washington.
- Mueller needs Cohen, or needs to protect him for some unknown reason.
Key context: https://t.co/Rti2PrGTRn
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) January 19, 2019
But what part of the story is in dispute? All of it? From the special counsel’s statement, we don’t know.
BuzzFeed News has not retracted the story or walked it back. The reporters added a paragraph to the original piece with the special counsel’s statement. That’s it.
“You have to think that the special counsel’s office is thinking through how to respond to press reports in the era of a Democratic House — they need to now set reasonable (and timely) expectations in order to ensure that Congress doesn’t [go] off the rails.” – Garrett Graff of Wired via Axios
And in this never ending series of bizarre events, here is Donald Trump thanking Mueller for last night’s statement.
TRUMP this morning: “I appreciate the special counsel coming out with a statement last night. I think it was very appropriate that they did so. I very much appreciate that." https://t.co/YXRoCOUyPU
— Liz Stark (@stark_talk) January 19, 2019
Credibility is everything in journalism. The profession took a hit yesterday. But there’s also this. Few were surprised to learn that the President of the United States would direct his personal attorney to lie to Congress. That’s where we are.