Jan 11, 2017

BuzzFeed's Trump blowup, in 5 stages

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

What did BuzzFeed do?

CNN published a carefully reported story Tuesday on intelligence officials warning Trump and Obama that Russians were trying to compromise Trump. The basis of this was a 35-page dossier alleging Trump did weird sex things and alleged his inner circle had been colluding with Russia. CNN didn't publish that dossier, because they couldn't confirm the details.

BuzzFeed also had the dossier, and they published it.

Is this normal?

No. BuzzFeed admitted it wasn't able to confirm many of the details, and that it contained obvious errors. In a note to staff, editor-in-chief Ben Smith defended that decision, saying the public had the right to know.

What happened next?

  • Journalists were quick to condemn BuzzFeed, saying it gives Trump's team credence to discredit other reports.
  • Trump got into the mix as well, calling BuzzFeed a "failing pile of garbage."
  • Even CNN, which had published a story on Tuesday using the same source material as BuzzFeed, distanced itself, saying it wouldn't have published the unverified information.

And a key part of the story fell apart:

A central item of the dossier alleged that Trump lawyer Michael Cohen went to Prague last year to meet with Russian spies. That proved to be wrong, as CNN reported Wednesday.

Here's where it gets messy: U.S. Senator John McCain also published a statement Wednesday morning saying he received this information last year and delivered it to FBI Director James Comey.

What's next: Journalists and Democrats will have questions for former FBI Director Comey about why he sat on unverified reports about Trump's relationship with Russia, but wrote to Congress about reopening a case around Clinton's email scandal that revealed nothing new shortly before the election.

Go deeper

Updated 28 mins ago - Health

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

The number of deaths from the novel coronavirus surpassed 400,000 worldwide on Sunday morning, per Johns Hopkins.

By the numbers: Almost 6.9 million people have tested positive for COVID-19 globally and more than 3 million have recovered from the virus. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world with over 1.9 million.

George Floyd updates

Protesters gather north of Lafayette Square near the White House during a demonstration against racism and police brutality, in Washington, D.C. on Saturday evening. Photo: Jose Luis Magana/AFP via Getty Images

Tens of thousands of demonstrators have been rallying in cities across the U.S. and around the world to protest the killing of George Floyd. Huge crowds assembled in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and Chicago for full-day events on Saturday.

Why it matters: Twelve days of nationwide protest in the U.S. has built pressure for states to make changes on what kind of force law enforcement can use on civilians and prompted officials to review police conduct. A memorial service was held for Floyd in Raeford, North Carolina, near where he was born. Gov. Roy Cooper ordered all flags to fly at half-staff to honor him until sunset.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 6,898,613 — Total deaths: 399,832 — Total recoveries — 3,087,714Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 1,920,061 — Total deaths: 109,802 — Total recoveries: 500,849 — Total tested: 19,778,873Map.
  3. Public health: Why the pandemic is hitting minorities harder — Coronavirus curve rises in FloridaHow racism threatens the response to the pandemic Some people are drinking and inhaling cleaning products in attempt to fight the virus.
  4. Tech: The pandemic is accelerating next-generation disease diagnostics — Robotics looks to copy software-as-a-service model.
  5. Business: Budgets busted by coronavirus make it harder for cities to address inequality Sports, film production in California to resume June 12 after 3-month hiatus.
  6. Education: Students and teachers flunked remote learning.