When you call it a ‘dossier,’ it makes it sound official and legitimate. But really, what BuzzFeed published was not a dossier, like what the FBI has on some suspected terrorist. What BuzzFeed published was tabloid material. In fact, I’m fairly certain that even if the National Enquirer got their hands on this ‘dossier,’ they wouldn’t have published it, because it was filled with completely unsubstantiated accusations and claims, and riddled with obvious errors. Even BuzzFeed admitted as much when they published it.
It started with CNN, who mentioned the 35-page document in an article, but didn’t release the details. BuzzFeed thought, ‘It’s not fair to merely mention this document without revealing its details. Our audience has a right to know what this document is so that they can decide for themselves.’
Their justification might sound principled on its surface, but how in the world are readers going to “decide for themselves?” The claims were unsubstantiated. They were nothing less than rumors, and for all we know, they were completely made up. People’s opinions of the document’s details would only be based on whether or not they hate Trump already. If they did hate him, then they likely believed every word. That’s hardly a rational way to decide the veracity of a claim.
BuzzFeed of course knows this. They don’t care about exposing corruption. They wouldn’t have dared publish anything that Larry Sinclair said about Barack Obama. If you recall, he was the guy who said he had a homosexual relationship with Obama when he was a state senator. He also alleged doing crack cocaine with him. But the major networks ignored Sinclair. His claims were unsubstantiated. It was material for tabloids.
But this Trump dossier is totally appropriate for news heavyweights like CNN and BuzzFeed. BuzzFeed wanted to be that “renegade” news agency that pushed the journalistic envelope. They wanted that notoriety for being the single news entity that brought down the Trump colossus.
And like every other news website and TV network, they wanted the money. According to the lawsuit against them, their dossier article was viewed 5.9 million times. Imagine the ad revenue they generated from just that one article.
Following the publication of this 35-page document, Trump responded, calling BuzzFeed a “failing pile of garbage.”
He added, “I think they’re going to suffer the consequences.”
It looks like those consequences are starting. The document didn’t just affect Trump. It affected others who were named in the dossier as being co-conspirators with the Kremlin to elect Trump. One of those entities was XBT Holdings, a Cyprus-based tech firm which is owned by Russian tech magnate Aleksej Gubarev.
Gubarev’s lawyers have filed libel lawsuits against BuzzFeed, its editor-in-chief Ben Smith, the British spy who compiled the document Christopher Steele, and his company Orbis Business Intelligence. McClatchy DC reported:
“The dossier included libelous, unverified and untrue allegations regarding XBT, Webzilla and Gubarev. The lawsuits seek yet undetermined compensation for the damages suffered by XBT, Webzilla and Gubarev as the result of the publication of the dossier,” a statement said.
Among other things, the document alleged, without corroboration, that the Trump campaign had worked with the Kremlin on penetrating Democratic National Committee computers. The dossier alleges XBT’s involvement and names Gubarev, saying he cooperated with Russian spy agencies under duress.
“We were shocked to see our good name wrongly included and published in this unsubstantiated report. We are confident that the courts will review the evidence of our non-involvement and provide fair and reasonable compensation from the perpetrators of this outrageous allegation,” the company statement said.
The dossier said XBT and affiliates “had been using botnets and porn traffic to transmit viruses, plant bugs, steal data and conduct ‘altering operations’ against the Democratic Party leadership.”
The British lawsuit against Steele and Orbis Business Intelligence Limited charges that they “deliberately and without consent” claimed that the plaintiffs had hacked into the emails of the Democratic Party, “and had used such unlawful access to transmit viruses, plant bugs, steal data and alter files and programs.”
Gubarev operates at least 40,000 servers across the globe and said he would have received real-time information if there had been hacking or illicit activity tied to his businesses. There is no evidence of that, he said, adding that neither the FBI nor any other U.S. authority has contacted him.
The Florida lawsuit says that neither defendant – BuzzFeed or Ben Smith – had contacted the plaintiffs to determine whether the allegations had “any basis in fact.” Nor have they since, it alleges.
Following the announcement of this lawsuit, BuzzFeed kindly redacted Gubarev’s name from the dossier and apologized. A little late, wouldn’t you say?
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