The Steele dossier is a “fucked-up document,” one of BuzzFeed’s top reporters said at a journalism symposium Saturday.
Anthony Cormier defended BuzzFeed’s decision to publish the dossier, while admitting that more needs to be known about the origins of the salacious document.
“That fucked-up document,” Cormier said of the dossier at the event, held Saturday at the University of California, Berkeley.
The Washington Times first flagged Cormier’s remarks.
“I’m going to say that. It was a fucked-up document. I think we need to know more about where it came from. Why it is. What it means,” said Cormier, a Pulitzer Prize winner.
“But I still defend the right and decision to publish it because I believe in radical transparency. And if the U.S. government is passing that kind of intel to the president and president-elect, I think you guys deserve to know.”
Cormier’s panel was moderated by Mark Schoofs, a former BuzzFeed editor who shares a byline on BuzzFeed’s Jan. 10, 2017, story publishing the dossier.
David Kramer, a former State Department official and longtime associate of John McCain, was BuzzFeed’s source for the dossier. He previewed or discussed the dossier with a dozen reporters, including BuzzFeed’s Ken Bensinger.
BuzzFeed published the document hours after CNN reported top government officials had briefed Trump about claims from the dossier in a Jan. 6, 2017, meeting at Trump Tower.
BuzzFeed has defended its decision to publish the report, without saying much about the veracity of the allegations made in the dossier. The website has been sued twice by people identified in the dossier.
BuzzFeed editor Ben Smith has said he believes the public had a right to see the dossier since it was being disseminated so widely among government officials and reporters in the weeks after the 2016 election.
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s report of the Russia investigation all but debunked core allegations made in the dossier. The report said former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen did not visit Prague, as the dossier alleged. Cormier published a story in May 2017 that included photographs of Cohen’s passport, which showed no stamps for entry to Europe at around the time the dossier claims he was there.
Cormier has recently garnered media attention for his work on a controversial article published Jan. 17 alleging Trump instructed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about his efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow during the 2016 presidential campaign. The Mueller report contradicted that article, saying Cohen told prosecutors Trump had not explicitly told him to lie to Congress. Cohen also said he did not discuss the specifics of his congressional testimony with Trump.
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