HomeArticleMSM Begs For Trust After Buzzfeed Debacle

MSM Begs For Trust After Buzzfeed Debacle

Following what the Washington Post has described as “the highest-profile misstep yet for a news organization during a period of heightened and intense scrutiny of the press,” mass media representatives are now flailing desperately for an argument as to why people should continue to place their trust in mainstream news outlets.

On Thursday Buzzfeed News delivered the latest “bombshell” Russiagate report to fizzle within 24 hours of its publication, a pattern that is now so consistent that I’ve personally made a practice of declining to comment on such stories until a day or two after their release. “BOOM!” tweets were issued by #Resistance pundits on Twitter, “If true this means X, Y and Z” bloviations were made on mass media punditry panels, and for about 20 hours Russiagaters everywhere were riding the high of their lives, giddy with the news that President Trump had committed an impeachable felony by ordering Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about a proposed Trump office tower in Moscow, a proposal which died within weeks and the Kremlin never touched.

There was reason enough already for any reasonable person to refrain from frenzied celebration, including the fact that the story’s two authors, Jason Leopold and Anthony Cormier, were giving the press two very different accounts of the information they’d based it on, with Cormier telling CNN that he had not personally seen the evidence underlying his report and Leopold telling MSNBC that he had. Both Leopold and Cormier, for the record, have already previously suffered a Russiagate faceplant with the clickbait viral story that Russia had financed the 2016 election, burying the fact that it was a Russian election.

Then the entire story came crashing down when Mueller’s office took the extremely rare step of issuing an unequivocal statement that the Buzzfeed story was wrong, writing simply, “BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the special counsel’s office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s congressional testimony are not accurate.”

According to journalist and economic analyst Doug Henwood, the print New York Times covered the Buzzfeed report on its front page when the story broke, but the report on Mueller’s correction the next day was shoved back to page 11. This appalling journalistic malpractice makes it very funny that NYT’s Wajahat Ali had the gall to tweet, “Unlike the Trump administration, journalists are fact checking and willing to correct the record if the Buzzfeed story is found inaccurate. Not really the actions of a deep state and enemy of the people, right?”

This is the behavior of a media class that is interested in selling narratives, not reporting truth. And yet the mass media talking heads are all telling us today that we must continue to trust them.

“Those trying to tar all media today aren’t interested in improving journalism but protecting themselves,” tweeted NBC’s Chuck Todd. “There’s a lot more accountability in media these days than in our politics. We know we live in a glass house, we hope the folks we cover are as self aware.”

More accountability in media than in politics, Chuck? Really? Accountability to whom? Your advertisers? Your plutocratic owners? Certainly not to the people whose minds you are paid exorbitant sums to influence; there are no public elections for the leadership of the mass media.

“Mueller didn’t do the media any favors tonight, and he did do the president one,” griped the odious Chris Cuomo on CNN. “Because as you saw with Rudy Giuliani and as I’m sure you’ll see with the president himself, this allows them to say ‘You can’t believe it! You can’t believe what you read, you can’t believe what you hear! You can only believe us. Even the Special Counsel says that the media doesn’t get it right.'”

“The larger message that a lot of people are going to take from this story is that the news media are a bunch of leftist liars who are dying to get the president, and they’re willing to lie to do it, and I don’t think that’s true” said Jeffrey Toobin on a CNN panel, adding “I just think this is a bad day for us.”

“It does reinforce bad stereotypes about the news media,” said Brian Stelter on the same CNN panel. “I am desperate as a media reporter to always say to the audience, judge folks individually and judge brands individually. Don’t fall for what these politicians out there want you to do. They want you to think we’re all crooked. We’re not. But Buzzfeed now, now the onus is on Buzzfeed.”

CNN, for the record, has been guilty of an arguably even more embarrassing Russiagate flub than Buzzfeed‘s when they wrongly reported that Donald Trump Jr had had access to WikiLeaks’ DNC email archives prior to their 2016 publication, an error that was hilariously due to to the simple misreading of an email date by multiple people.

The mass media, including pro-Trump mass media like Fox News, absolutely deserves to be distrusted. It has earned that distrust. It had earned that distrust already with its constant promotion of imperialist wars and an oligarch-friendly status quo, and it has earned it even more with its frenzied promotion of a narrative engineered to manufacture consent for a preexisting agenda to shove Russia off the world stage.

The mainstream media absolutely is the enemy of the people; just because Trump says it doesn’t mean it’s not true. The only reason people don’t rise up and use the power of their numbers to force the much-needed changes that need to happen in our world is because they are being propagandized to accept the status quo day in and day out by the mass media’s endless cultural engineering project. They are the reason why wars go unopposed, why third parties never gain traction, why people consent to money hemorrhaging upward to the wealthiest of the wealthy while everyone else struggles to survive. The sooner people wake up from the perverse narrative matrix of the plutocratic media, the better.


The best way to get around the internet censors and make sure you see the stuff I publish is to subscribe to the mailing list for my website, which will get you an email notification for everything I publish. My articles are entirely reader-supported, so if you enjoyed this piece please consider sharing it around, liking me on Facebook, following my antics on Twitterthrowing some money into my hat on Patreon or Paypalpurchasing some of my sweet new merchandisebuying my new book Rogue Nation: Psychonautical Adventures With Caitlin Johnstone, or my previous book Woke: A Field Guide for Utopia Preppers.

Bitcoin donations:1Ac7PCQXoQoLA9Sh8fhAgiU3PHA2EX5Zm2

Liked it? Take a second to support Caitlin Johnstone on Patreon!

Latest comments

  • Well reasoned and written dissection of the withering Legacy MSM. One quibble is the rhetorical line: “while everyone else struggles to survive.” I’m getting on in years, so I remember the late ’40s and early ’50s. The essence of what it means to be ‘just getting by’ appears to have evolved. If someone has a smart phone, flat screen, high speed internet etc… they may be living from paycheck to paycheck but struggling to survive is, as I say, a bit rhetorical. –RWE

    • “If someone has a smart phone, flat screen, high speed internet etc… they may be living from paycheck to paycheck but struggling to survive is, as I say, a bit rhetorical.”
      Ha! “a bit rhetorical!” Welcome to the Age of Exaggeration! Today, everything is “incredible” and every event is “unprecedented.” If the president is not impeached, “Armageddon” will ensue. “Important” is no longer important unless it’s “incredibly important”. This is the language of the age. And this doesn’t even address the alterations in the meanings of simple terms that people used to be able to use to communicate.

      • Rod, epic take!

  • I misread that as begs for thrust …

  • This is brilliant psyops. Trump most likely did instruct Cohen to lie. So put out a story saying he did based on evidence that can be disproven, and the idea he did instruct Cohen is falsely thought to be disproven

    Kind of like how Bush made the National Guard story disappear along with Rather

    Planting an easily disprovable fact in a report containing the truth so the truth can be said to be disproven is one of
    the oldest trick in the book

    Its all fake wrestling man.

    • “Trump most likely did instruct Cohen to lie.”
      You figure that because you think he’s as stupid as you?

  • I wonder how many Normies out there actually think Buzzfeed IS alternative media simply because its online. I want to agree with you about the collapsing mainstream, Inforebelscum, but I don’t think a lot of people yet know what Alternative media actually is, hence there opens a place for Mainstream to pretend to be the alternative if the platform looks right. Also, the term ‘conspiracy theorist’ has stood the test of time as far as the technical aspect of name-calling goes and no-one wants to like like a kooky conspiracy theorist. Climate science denier, holocaust denier, transphobe (which is homophobe version 2.0), misogynist….so many specialized, sloganized slurs available nowadays, but conspiracy theorist is the granddaddy of them all.

  • I wouldn’t waste my piss on them if they were on fire! Whoring deceitful scum bags, in bed with the other lying deceitful bag of shit, the Australian Government and Defence Force? A bunch of children that haven’t grown up, but learnt to suck cock, lick pussy, and steal from the Australian taxpayer. Hang the fucking lot. They deserve nothing less!
    Let them shove that up their data base!

  • It’s true that the CEOs of media conglomerates weren’t elected. The idea is that the accountability will be ensured not through elections, but through market mechanisms: if the viewers no longer trust one plutocrat-owned media outlet, they can always go to another plutocrat-owned media outlet instead. Supposedly, competition will stimulate the plutocrat-owned media outlets to be more trustworthy, and in the end, the most trustworthy media outlets will have the biggest audience.

    Of course, that’s not the way it works in practice. Plutocrat-owned media outlets serve as mouthpieces of the plutocracy, and they can maintain this function in the face of each other’s competition perfectly well, while the viewers get to choose only between slightly different brands of brainwashing. Media outlets simply shouldn’t be owned and controlled by plutocrats. They should be owned and controlled democratically – partly by the general public and partly by those who work in them, the journalists. In other words, as usual, the solution is (democratic) socialism.

    • FF, your premise and solution are both demonstrably false.

      Because of competition traditional media, print and electronic, have lost market share dramatically and are on the verge of collapse because people no longer get their news from MSM. People have learned that the MSM is not trustworthy and have hence moved over to alt-media which is to say real media in that alt-media actually tries to get to the truth unlike the MSM which tries to twist the truth towards political ends (with most definitely leftist goals). People can do this now because there is now no longer a monopoly of news sources.
      A government controlled media is no media at all. It is simply government propaganda. Which is to say government lies. The whole purpose of a free media is so that there can be a check on government lies. “News” by bureaucrats will not bring forth truth but rather the exact opposite. More freedom is the answer not more government.

      • Rod, please let us know when your imaginary collapse of the plutocratic propaganda machine occurs. Oh, and our media is already government owned. The “free market” dogma with which you have been propagandized is just that, dogma. It’s not based in reality. There is no “free” market, neither in trade between countries, nor in domestic markets which are tightly controlled by large, consolidated corporate interests.

        • Dennis, I assume you meant this post for me. The collapse is already occurring and TDS is only accelerating it. Which is it? Is the MSM owned by the government or is it owned by the oligarchy? The answer is yes. So then how can something corrupted by government and already run by government be fixed by having the government run it as FF recommends?! Fox guarding the chicken coop.

          Glad you agree with me that there is no free market in reality. So then how can the left continue to blame free market capitalism when, as you correctly admit, such a system does not even exist?

          People changing their source of news is a free market action by a free people. Forcing people to only get their news from a government source is not free market action by a free people. And that is the difference between freedom and tyranny. I will take only the former as acceptable.

  • Of all the things that are shoved down our throats – or not, when they should be – what isn’t our enemy? Things like the blatant misrepresentation about Russiagate were so clearly nonsense, from the very beginning, that both all parties concerned are deemed my enemy. Deep research – and intelligent, documented, alternative media – are our only friends. While I’m only 99.5 percent in agreement with you Caity and, that’s a number I can live with because, even when I don’t completely agree (which is rare), I know that you are honestly telling the truth as you see it.
    My longstanding position on truth is that, if I always tell you the truth, I never have to remember what I told you. The msm, in its lies, exaggerations and omissions, are so unreliable, that I rarely ever even pay attention to it.

  • “The only reason people don’t rise up and use the power of their numbers to force the much-needed changes that need to happen in our world is because they are being propagandized…”

    There is hardly only one reason, although the one Caitlin gives is certainly true.

    It’s a free universe. We can care or not. And being a victim of neoconservatism/ neoliberalism doesn’t automatically make you righteous. In fact, 99% of the 99% (figuratively speaking) doesn’t care. They are plugged into the Corporatocracy’s doctrinal matrix and will resist, even attack, the 1% of the 99% who try to free them. That’s reality.

  • I’m speechless. Imagine – cutting checks to finance elections IN YOUR OWN COUNTRY. The Russians are even more cunning, devious and underhanded than I had believed. *BRRRRRRRR*

  • Chris Hedges wrote a book about the US entitled “Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle”. In it, Chris observes that many people in the US now think that if they pray hard enough FOR something and believe sincerely enough IN something, that that something will come to pass or into existence. If it doesn’t, that means they didn’t believe or wish hard enough. It’s the wisher’s or believer’s fault.
    Both inside and outside of government, there are a lot of people who, for one reason or another, hate Agent Orange (AO) with every fibre of their being. Their hatred is almost palpable. They’re praying to God every moment of their lives to some how, any way, remove the cad, thug, monster, racist, fascist, insane, you-name-it AO from the venerable office of the US presidency. Some are a bit more active with their hatred. For example, AO’s “walk of fame” star has been demolished at least a couple of times by people using various blunt-force tools including a pickaxe and sledgehammer. (A little voice is telling me that AO’s bust is not going to appear anytime soon on an expanded Mount Rushmore.) The wonderful, mercenary MSM sees gold in them thar Black Hills of popular hatred.
    People pay money to see movies in which the good guy/nation/etc. vanquishes the bad guy, even if in reality the good guy is actually the bad guy; for example, all the movies in which the now-venerated agents of the US government whup some Russian/Chinese/Iranian/North Korean/or-whomever-the-chosen-enemy-of-the-day’s ass. Hollywood’s philosophy is “give ’em what they want” and, by Jesus, that’s exactly what Hollywood does.
    The same is nowadays true in the “entertainment news” business — give ’em whatever returns the most clicks. And what millions upon millions of the Empire of Illusion’s people are willing to click for is “news” that AO is, for whatever reason for today, a very bad man that must be impeached, impeached, impeached.
    Supply and Demand; it’s as simple as that. Quite obviously, truth isn’t entering this equation because the lying, warmongering whores of the NYT, WaPo, CNN, NBC, CBS, NPR and the other MSM are making more and more money peddling lies.
    Back in my younger days I used to wonder, as I stood in line at the supermarket till, who bought those “National Enquirer” tabloids on the rack with the “Mom has alien baby!” headline on the front page. (It must have been true because a photo of the little devil accompanied the story.) Now I know. Millions of like-minded people are buying the lies and we know why — their overpowering HATE for AO (and their true, deeply held belief that aliens are having sex with the women of planet earth because their world is dying and they need to save their race).
    Nobody is going to pay to go see a movie in which US planes bomb/blow up civilian men, women, children and infants in a dozen different nations into a million pieces. “There’s no money in it.” Therefore, as Howard Beale said in one of his on-air diatribes in the movie “Network”, “If you want the truth, go to your gurus; go to yourselves, because you’re never going to get the truth here. We’ll tell you whatever shit you want to hear. We’re in the boredom killing business. We deal in illusion, man. None of it is true!”
    Jack Nicholson’s character in “A Few Good Men” was exactly right. We “can’t HANDLE the truth!” For just one example, the US is, as of today, certainly the greatest threat to world peace that has ever existed in the history of human existence. Big news, right? Yet that “idea”, that “story” is NOT going sell many newspapers or get many clicks in the US of A. Americans won’t believe it. They’ll think it’s “fake news” that has been bought and paid for by Putin. They’ll think that because that’s what their favorite MSM news “star” is going to tell them, because he knows that that is what they want to hear. (Which came first, the chicken or the egg?)
    To sum up, we’re not going to see what we don’t want to see. We’ll see lots of what we do want to see.

    • “We’ll tell you whatever shit you want to hear.”
      – Howard Beale
      That was then. This is now:
      We’ll tell you whatever shit we want you to hear.

      • Rod, exactly!

  • “The mainstream media absolutely is the enemy of the people; just because Trump says it doesn’t make it untrue.”
    Amen. Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!

  • One of the factors that made the Buzzfeed story so believable is that Trump himself lies like a rug. Thus, it’s not a stretch to think that he would advise others to lie on his behalf. That is the trap that Big Media fell into. They were primed to accept an unverified story of yet more lying. A pox on all their houses.

    • Exaggerating or sarcastic joking is not lying. That’s the kind of lying that the media like to focus on. It’s gotten so stupid by now that sarcasm has become politically incorrect. The primary basis on which much of the Russia BS is based was an obviously sarcastic joke by Trump when he allegedly invited the Russians to investigate Hillary’s emails. That was after the farcical collusion conspiracy theory had already been disseminated by the IC in collusion with the media via leaks.
      But the media wasn’t gonna let Trump get away with giving the American people credit for being able to discern fact from sarcasm. No! They were gonna take him quite literally in order to build on their BS Russia story and fool the American people. I don’t know how to post a graphic or pic here so:

      • Rod, your argument is reinforced by the actions of the WAPO to actually do a “fact check” on Trump’s claim that the hamburgers were stacked a mile high in the White House for the Clemson team. Unbelievable. TDS has forever exposed the MSM as the lying fools they are and always have been.

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8OG10gQwBis

    trust this…another whopper got told and is being jumped on

  • Once you know someone is a liar, especially a very good liar with a lot of followers that reinforce thier credibility, you just stop paying atention.

    If it were a free market opration they would be trying to boost numbers by appealing to a wider audience. But they are not free market the are funded by people/groups with an agenda – in psrt of course the cia/fbi.

    However it falls on us that we choose what we want to believe. Basically it all should be assumed to be lies and distortions until proven otherwise. And as you point out so sucvinctly the real news is the stuff they font tslk about. They are psid to keep us from being aware.

  • Good column Caitlin. Not to belittle it but in other news water is wet. Jeffrey Toobin shows clearly how far out from reality MSM “journalists” are. Total self unawareness.

    And yet Buzzfeed will still be believed by millions not only on this story but in future ones as well. The MSM is the enemy of the people all right but willfully ignorant people are more dangerous.

    • Yes, willfully ignorant people are the true danger. And we can see from the entire Russiagate narrative that willful ignorance is not Republican, it is not right-wing, it’s MOST everybody! The most interesting whacko ideologies today are Russia’s “interference” in the 2016 U.S. election and transgenderism, both ideologies unthinkingly accepted by large portions of the public who refuse to allow discussion or possible dissension from their narratives.

      • Transgenderism is an ideology? Huh?

        • That threw me too. Explain it, please, Susan.

        • Rob, it falls under Queer Studies and yes it is an ideology, an agenda.

      • Susan, 99% of anti-free speech activity is from the Left. And they are vicious about it because they are terrified of truth. There can be no other logical reason.

  • Simple and to the point; an excellent article. Someone should do a timeline w “bombshells” on the left w links that debunk the claims on the right.

    • That would be a long article!

  • Fortunately, Televisions have an Off switch. So do tablets and computers and phones.

    The best way to wake up is to turn them off. Besides, its costs them money as their viewer numbers, circulation numbers, website hits all decline.

    You’ll be amazed how differently the world looks once you no longer let them into your head. You might have to give it a month or two to completely de-media-fy, but when you get there, its great, the sky is blue, and the sun is shining!

    • You have a point. However, There are other issues. All I can say is thank goodness for those journos who have the intestinal fortitude to examine corporate fake news ‘for us’. We do need to know what they’re up to. I was talking yesterday to a girl at my workplace about passive and active learning and illiteracy. I made the point that people don’t actively learn. They turn on the tv set, absorb propaganda and then assume that anyone who tells them something different than what they ‘know’ is wrong. I added that while I trust alt/progressive media, but not unconditionally, I also know what’s being reported in the mainstream media precisely because much of leftwing journalism looks at the fake crap that corporate media cranks out.

  • Ten media reports likely to be skewed, spun, or just plain falsified:

    1. Polls

    2. Consumer confidence

    3. Unemployment figures

    4. Non-American collateral damage in war zones

    5.Attendance figures for political events

    6. Enemy body counts in war zones

    7. Annual visitor figures for tourist attractions

    8.Number of terrorist attacks prevented

    9. Time required by non-nuclear country to secretly develop nuclear weapons

    10. Time within which a foreign country or terrorist group can deliver a devastating attack
    on homeland or allies

  • Hmm, this is new news to me.
    Like in the US, human life is cheaper than taking the responsibility and the expense to correct your construction mistakes. Shameless, pitiful cowards in the US Government (9/11) and the Iranian government responsible for this murderous act. But, what if the Israelis planted the bombs and the fire? They have sabotaged the Iranian nuclear power development before and have assasinated scientists.

  • “The larger message that a lot of people are going to take from this story is that the news media are a bunch of leftist liars who are dying to get the president, and they’re willing to lie to do it, and I don’t think that’s true” said Jeffrey Toobin on a CNN panel, adding “I just think this is a bad day for us.”

    It would be one thing if this was only a rare event, but sadly it’s not. They have messed up so many stories that Toobin’s description is shown to be totally accurate. And the word “leftists” should be highlighted in bright yellow majic markers because that’s what they are.

  • This comes from a contact of mine who is a former SDNY Prosecutor:

    What Buzzfeed said:
    “Now the two sources have told BuzzFeed News that Cohen also told the special counsel that after the election, the president personally instructed him to lie — by claiming that negotiations ended months earlier than they actually did — in order to obscure Trump’s involvement.

    The special counsel’s office learned about Trump’s directive for Cohen to lie to Congress through interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents. Cohen then acknowledged those instructions during his interviews with that office.”

    What the Mueller statement said:
    “BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the Special Counsel’s Office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s Congressional testimony are not accurate,” Carr said.

    How things work when you have multiple grand juries:
    Things obtained by one GJ (SDNY is were the arrant return on the search of Cohen’s Office went) cannot just be shared around. They are secret. You have to get a special order to unseal them from one GJ and present them to another GJ Rule 6e(3)(F).

    The reason that Mueller disputed the BuzzFeed story is that it’s SDNY which has the documents and SDNY that is prosecuting Cohen, NOT THE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR as claimed in the Buzzfeed story. It’s not the substance that is being disputed, just which prosecutor has the evidence.

    • Not sure what you say makes much sense. First, and as Aaron Mate has pointed out, if you’re going to instruct your representative to lie to the Congress then why would this be conveyed by ‘internal company emails, text messages and a cache of other documents’. Surely not even Trump is so dumb to issue clearly impeachable/indictable instructions and ensure that they’re so thoroughly recorded. Let alone issue such to a lawyer (admittedly not a very good one) who would know better and make noises about not leaving a trail. This unlikely scenario essentially is what the Buzzfeed report rests on.

      Second, Mueller’s statement explicitly refers to Buzzfeed’s inaccurate reporting of ‘specific statements’, and ‘characterization of documents and testimony received by this office’. If such material is exclusively in the SDNY GJ’s hands, then wouldn’t Mueller have said so if his office didn’t have this material? Yet clearly they state that testimony had been ‘received by this office’. There was no mention of the GJ SDNY by Mueller.

      If one GJ can’t share its material with other GJs, then from the Mueller statement either the GJ did share material with the Mueller probe or the Mueller probe had obtained similar testimony and evidence independently.

      Third, if the GJ material indeed is secret and Mueller didn’t have it, then how did Buzzfeed get it from the GJ, and why did they attribute it to the Mueller investigation?

      On the other hand, Occam’s razor would have it that Mueller does has relevant material, and, in Mueller’s view, for some unspecified reason Buzzfeed has reported it inaccurately.

    • You should audition for a fake news actor position so you can work reading lines attributed to your imaginary friends, and unnamed sources on behalf of the deep state. I suggest FauxSpews, MSNBC Spews, ABC Spews, CBS Spews, or, since you seem to like writing, perhaps submitting some op eds to the Washington Compost, or the NewYorkCrimes. MSM are nothing more than deep state propaganda organs spewing idiotic, diversionary narratives about Republiconartist, and Dismal Dollar Dimwitocratic Kabuki Theater of the absurd diversions of swamp creatures in Washington, District of Criminals.

      • Well stated!

leave a comment