— CNN (@CNN) January 15, 2017
Buzzfeed ran an unverified Donald Trump intelligence report that had been making the rounds in Washington political media circles. Trump and other media outlets were critical of the decision. It will be one that will be rehashed in journalism ethics seminars for years to come (if it hasn’t been already).
Ben Smith, editor-in-chief of Buzzfeed, and CNN’s Brian Stelter presented both sides of the argument in a civil, 13-minute, and largely apolitical discussion that is worth watching.
Personally, I think it’s hard to make the case for publication within a journalism ethics universe. Though, as Smith notes, the CNN report that Obama and Trump were briefed on the document does present an argument for doing so. Journalism ethics and the best interests of the democracy don’t always align. In many cases those ethics are concerned with the best interests of the outlet not being sued.
With the “tremendous” flux occurring right now within both American politics and journalism, it’s hard to argue the American public isn’t best served by having more information at its disposal even if it “helps Trump.”