In light of the potentially bull#@t Buzzfeed article, the press needs to take greater responsibility if we are going to scrutinize President-Elect Trump’s statements and misuse of facts. Journalists have to carefully vet their sources and be certain of what is reported. If the media is going to hold Trump’s feet to the fire, then journalists should do the same thing to themselves.
The public discourse since the election has centered on “fake news”—a real problem if social media is an integral part of your daily life. The inherent problem is that, these days, anybody can be a journalist, just by starting a blog, doing some Google searches, and posting whatever you want online. There has to be a higher standard set by the media organizations who are working hard to combat “fake news”—publishing an unsubstantiated, un-sourced document in its entirety does not meet those standards.
That’s not to say that there is no newsworthy story here. Before Buzzfeed published the documents, CNN broke the story, explaining, rather cautiously, that the documents had been presented to President-elect Trump and outgoing President Obama by intelligence officials. The contents were not the focus—that intelligence officials were aware that our President-elect may have been compromised was the issue. Shedding light on the potential interference of the Russian government in our democracy is an important endeavor, but publishing the content of the documents without further independent verification is not good journalism.
The greatest tragedy to the First Amendment is to have a weakened press that hesitates to cover a story and a public that questions the validity of the news. We all lose in the end.