CNN’s Jake Tapper defended himself and his network on Wednesday when Donald Trump and his team attacked it over a news story claiming that Russia had compromising material on the President-elect.
The CNN host differentiated between CNN’s coverage and that of BuzzFeed saying that the latter had engaged in irresponsible journalism. The defense came after incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer, and then Trump, himself, slammed CNN and BuzzFeed during Trump’s first press conference since well before he was elected president.
Tapper contrasted his employer’s coverage with that of BuzzFeed pointing out that the latter had published an unverified dossier of memos which served as part of the basis for a two page synopsis which were handed to President Obama and the President-elect during their respective intelligence briefings last week. U.S. intelligence has reportedly vetted the author of the memos and his sources as credible, but has not been able to vet many of the allegations contained therein, but the investigation is continuing.
“At the beginning of the press conference, Sean Spicer, who’s going to be the White House [press] secretary, suggested that both BuzzFeed and CNN published this dossier full of uncorroborated rumors. That’s not true. That’s false. CNN never did that,” the CNN anchor said.
“That conflation — whether because Sean Spicer misunderstood or some other reason — that’s not true.” He then defended his colleague, Jim Acosta, who was involved in a heated exchange with Trump at the press conference after the President-elect refused Acosta’s requests to be able to ask a question after “his network was attacked.” Trump called CNN and Acosta “fake news,” refusing to allow the reporter to ask a question.
“When Mr. Trump went after our own Jim Acosta, saying he’s fake news and he isn’t going to call on him [for a question], what I suspect we’re seeing here is an attempt to discredit legitimate, responsible attempts to report on this incoming administration with irresponsible journalism that hurts us all and the media going forward,” Tapper said.
“It’s irresponsible to put uncorroborated information on the internet. I can understand why President-elect Trump would be upset about that. I would be upset, too,” said Tapper. “It is why we did not publish it and why we did not detail anything specific from it.”
“That’s not what we do. We’re in the business of sussing out what is true and what is false.”
For its part, BuzzFeed did preface its report with the fact that the allegations contained in the dossier were unverified and that it contained some obvious errors. However, as it did serve as part of the basis for the intelligence community’s findings, it decided to publish it.
The 35 page document is filled with explosive allegations about Trump and Russia, but as the claims have so far not been verified, it had not been published by major news organizations.
CNN also issued a statement saying “The Trump team knows this. They are using BuzzFeed’s decision to deflect from CNN’s reporting, which has been matched by the other major news organizations,” and calling on Trump’s team to identify specific details they believe to be inaccurate.
“We are fully confident in our reporting. It represents the core of what the First Amendment protects, informing the people of the inner workings of their government; in this case, briefing materials prepared for President Obama and President-elect Trump last week.”