As It Happens

Media watchdog says BuzzFeed should not have published Trump dossier

BuzzFeed is under fire for publishing a dossier of unsubstantiated claims against U.S. president-elect Donald Trump. Guest host Helen Mann speaks with media ethicist and Poynter Institute Vice President, Kelly McBride.
President-elect Donald Trump speaks at a news conference at Trump Tower on Jan. 11, 2017 in New York City. In his first official news conference since the November election, the president-elect referred to BuzzFeed as "a failing pile of garbage." (Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images)

Read Story Transcript

This week BuzzFeed News dropped a bombshell. The website published a 35-page dossier allegedly written by an ex-intelligence official on U.S. president-elect Donald Trump.

The dossier makes unsubstantiated, salacious claims that Russia has been "cultivating, supporting and assisting" Trump and keeping track of compromising information on the president-elect. Although it had been circulated for months, other news outlets decided not to publish the full allegations.   

On Wednesday, Trump gave his first official news conference since the November election. In a heated exchange with CNN's Jim Acosta, he dismissed questions about the report and insisted BuzzFeed was "a failing pile of garbage" that would "suffer the consequences."

Trump shuts down CNN reporter

5 years ago
Duration 0:35
U.S. president-elect Donald Trump refuses to take question from CNN correspondent Jim Acosta

Kelly McBride is a media ethicist and Vice President of the Poynter Institute.
Kelly McBride is a media ethicist and Vice President of the Poynter Institute. (Kelly McBride/Twitter)

She spoke with As It Happens guest host Helen Mann about why she believes the documents should not have been published.

"I don't think it was an act of journalism. Instead it was just an act of showing the public what you have. The act of journalism that needs to happen here is to vet and verify, or debunk," McBride explains.

"It has the effect of making it less likely that citizens will listen when the truth finally surfaces."

For more on this story, listen to our full interview with Kelly McBride.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?