“Donald Trump eats infants for breakfast, and washes the little tykes down with the blood of flies,” The National Ransacker reported today, based on an unidentified and gauzy source. “The information is unverified, but we believe Americans can make up their own minds about allegations about the president-elect,” the Ransacker’s editor said.
A couple of questions: (1) How is this bogus story (and publication) any different from BuzzFeed’s unverified and unsourced story claiming that Donald Trump is little more than a limb of the Kremlin, and that the Kremlin has information that Trump has been a bad boy? (Show of hands. How many of you had even heard of BuzzFeed before today? I hadn’t either.) (2) Would CNN repeat the blood of flies story?
The “Americans can make up their own minds” dodge is the excuse BuzzFeed editor Ben Smith used to perfume his decision to treat what is no more than scurrilous speculation as news. Smith concedes there may be some reason to be skeptical of the allegations. (Ya think?) But he defends his decision to publish them because this “reflects how we see the job of reporters in 2017.”
God help us. Apparently at BuzzFeed they don’t know the difference between a reporter and a dung beetle. If his supermarket checkout line publication story rises to the level of publication, and is considered worthy of being repeated by supposedly legitimate news outlets, then is there any speculation that is obviously farfetched enough, or obviously politically motivated enough, to be beyond the pale?
It would appear that if you feed a horse sufficient oats, there will be enough left over at the other end for the sparrows, and for BuzzFeed and CNN.