BuzzFeed News has some good reporters and has done some good work.
Sure, they have a clear ideological lean, and much of their political and social reporting does push an agenda, but that doesn’t mean all of the work is tainted. The same is true for virtually any news outlet that exists.
However, last night’s big story, which states that Donald Trump did, in fact, tell Michael Cohen to lie to Congress, leaves me conflicted.
The story uses two unnamed sources within the Justice Department. It uses claims that someone said Michael Cohen made to Robert Mueller. And it feels like one of those Too Good To Be True moments that often gets people’s hopes up and usually leaves them high and dry.
If BuzzFeed’s story is accurate, I expect a flood of stories from outlets whose own sources begin to confirm some or all of BuzzFeed’s initial reporting. If there is truth to the accusation, then we’re going to see a very nervous White House. It’s going to be a big, big story.
But, if this is in any way overblown or based on bad information, the level of blowback on BuzzFeed can and should be intense. It is a fact that it would be a scandal in and of itself if they ran a story featuring the accusation that President Trump did indeed obstruct the Russia investigation and the story turns out in any way to be untrue. No journalism outlet should be allowed to get away with that type of malpractice.
On the other hand, however, this isn’t a story you can just ignore. The information presented isn’t simply something you can wish away with a “FAKE NEWS” declaration or a “pfffft it’s just BuzzFeed” retort. This is a serious story that requires a serious investigation.
Do I believe that Trump would tell Cohen to do that? Yes. Do I believe that Cohen is dumb enough to take that suggestion? Absolutely. But, I need proof beyond the words of unnamed sources, and I need confirmation beyond “Well Michael Cohen says it’s true.”
I mean, if the man’s history is any indication, he has a problem with honesty and integrity.
It’s how quickly I find myself believing the story could be true that has warning bells going off. If it seems too good to be true, it usually is. Especially when other “serious” reporting on Trump has fallen apart under scrutiny.
That’s why we ultimately need to see Robert Mueller’s report when it’s ready. Good, bad, or ugly, it should be made available to the public. I don’t want it filtered to me through the talking points of Congress or the White House. I don’t want it filtered through the news media. I want to be able to read the report, in full, myself. The Americans who care most, who want a resolution to this drama as much as I do, will want to read it themselves.
If Cohen is making public statements to Congress in February, that’s got me thinking Mueller’s investigation is wrapping up. The report can’t just be a thing the politicians see and then tell us about. The American public, who have been dragged into this nightmare of continuous news cycles, need to be set free, and the only way to do so is to let them see it for themselves.
Nothing short of that will set us free of this never-ending cycle of insanity.