January 11th, 2017

[Update @ 0853: I’m taking a break—I have to get to work—but I’m noticing clues that this was written by someone for whom English is not a first language. What I’m noticing is that quite a few articles (a, an, the) are missing. Russian, for one example, does not have articles and this caused some mirth among Soviet nuclear weapons treaty negotiators when Americans would obsess over whether treaty language should read a missile vs. the missile (for example) when in Russian the line would simple read missile. Further reading is needed, but this isn’t reading like a really credible source to me.

I’m going to be very interested what Glenn Greenwald and Edward Snowden may have to say since their expertise will be far more insightful than my own.]

At my core, I’m a journalist. That’s what I paid Ohio University to certify me as with my undergraduate degree more than 30 years ago. I don’t hold to the idea that journalists can ever be objective. We can do our best, in the absence of other voices, to be fair, but in the end we publish, with all the caveat and insight we can muster, and let people decide.

So, I’m not surprised by the shitstorm raised by BuzzFeed’s decision to publish unredacted documents, long in the hands of other journalists, that purport to tie President-Elect Donald Trump to influences in Russia that go back more than five years.

I haven’t read the documents yet, I’ll do so later today, but I encourage everyone to grab copies as quickly as you can on the off chance that they disappear and then sit down and read, as I will do, every word.

While, by BuzzFeed’s own admission, [t]he allegations are unverified, and the report contains errors, I applaud their decision. Here’s how they lede the piece:

A dossier making explosive—but unverified—allegations that the Russian government has been “cultivating, supporting and assisting” President-elect Donald Trump for years and gained compromising information about him has been circulating among elected officials, intelligence agents, and journalists for weeks.

The dossier, which is a collection of memos written over a period of months, includes specific, unverified, and potentially unverifiable allegations of contact between Trump aides and Russian operatives, and graphic claims of sexual acts documented by the Russians. BuzzFeed News reporters in the US and Europe have been investigating various alleged facts in the dossier but have not verified or falsified them. CNN reported Tuesday that a two-page synopsis of the report was given to President Obama and Trump.

Now BuzzFeed News is publishing the full document so that Americans can make up their own minds about allegations about the president-elect that have circulated at the highest levels of the US government.

Lawfare came to this wise conclusion:

[S]low down, and take a deep breath. We shouldn’t assume either that this is simply a “fake news” episode directed at discrediting Trump or that the dam has now broken and the truth is coming out at last. We don’t know what the reality is here, and the better part of valor is not to get ahead ahead of the facts—a matter on which, incidentally, the press deserves a lot of credit.

Please pay attention to the updates at the end of the Lawfare piece.

While there is certainly a lot more credibility here than the president-elects former assertions concerning our president’s birth certificate, this may not be Watergate. Again, every American should read and decide. Do not wait and see.

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