BuzzFeed, Inc. is an American internet media and news company. The firm is a news and entertainment company with a focus on digital media. BuzzFeed was founded in 2006 as a viral lab focusing on tracking viral content, by Jonah Peretti and John S. Johnson III. Kenneth Lerer, co-founder and chairman of The Huffington Post, started as a co-founder and investor in BuzzFeed and became the executive chairman.
BuzzFeed's news division began in December 2011 when Peretti hired Ben Smith away from Politico as editor-in-chief to expand the site into long-form journalism and reporting. Smith came to fame in 2008 when he broke the story of Barack Obama's communist connections beginning in the home of leftist celebrity terrorists Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn who hosted a fundraiser for the upcoming radical.
Clapper and Tapper
On Tuesday January 10, 2017, CNN stated President-elect Trump was briefed on the Clinton-Steele dossier. An hour later Buzzfeed published the dossier and CNN linked to it. The Clinton opposition research was presented to the public as a supposed U.S. "intelligence report" that the Obama administration was acting on. In fact, it was fabricated by a retired foreign intelligence operative who hated Trump and paid Russians with money from Clinton and Obama's FBI for manufactured dirt on Trump.
James Clapper leaked to Jake Tapper of CNN the substance of the dossier and the private briefing of the President-elect, and CNN directed traffic to BuzzFeed's site, who posted the unsubstantiated smears. The FBI later admitted that the smears and innuendo were unsubstantiated, but the purpose of the collusion between the FBI, CNN, and BuzzFeed was to destroy the confidence of the American people in the new administration.
Five weeks after BuzzFeed published the false allegations, Aleksej Gubarev sued denying that his web-hosting companies had used “botnets and porn traffic to transmit viruses, plant bugs, steal data and ‘conduct altering operations’ against the Democratic party leadership.” BuzzFeed argued that under New York state's fair-report privilege, the fact President Obama had been briefed on the phony dossier, and approved briefing the President-elect with "salacious and unverified" information, the intelligence agencies must answer questions about Obama's approval. The court has agreed. James Comey will be subpoenaed to testify about the January 5, 2017 Oval Office meeting.
In 2017, the bogus Carter Page FISA application. with the Steele allegations (Steele was a paid opposition researcher, a fact not widely known in March 2017) was leaked to the media by the Senate Intelligence Committee giving mainstream media impetus to the Trump-Russia conspiracy theory.
BuzzFeed reporter Ali Watkins received the full classified Carter Page FISA application from the Senate Intelligence Committee director of security, James Wolfe in March 2017. Wolfe was arrested and indicted in mid 2018 and Watkins, who parlayed sleeping with her source into a job with the New York Times, was reassigned away from reporting on national security matters.
- About BuzzFeed. BuzzFeed.
- Stelter, Brian (December 12, 2011). BuzzFeed Adds Politico Writer. Mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com.
- Obama once visited '60s radicals., Ben Smith, Politico, February 22, 2008.
- 4. One of the seventeen reports in the Dossier—CIR 112—accused the Plaintiffs of criminal conduct and participation in an alleged Trump-Russia scheme to influence the 2016 presidential election. Defendants knew that this Report was not verified, and that it defamed Plaintiffs on its face. Defendants could easily have removed that Report from the Dossier before they started peddling the Dossier to media and journalists in September and October 2016. They chose not to do so. Nor did they attempt to determine the veracity of that Report with the Plaintiffs themselves.
5. At all times during the Defendants’ engagement of Orbis and Steele, it was either intended or clearly foreseeable that the Dossier’s contents would be republished (in whole or in part) to third parties, either by the Defendants themselves or their clients. Indeed, that is the entire purpose of “oppo research” in politics. Those third parties included government officials, as well as news media and journalists who could make its content public.
6. On information and belief, Defendants arranged for Steele to brief selected members of the print and online media about the information he was compiling on candidate Trump. Consistent with the intended purpose of “oppo research” to publicly discredit its target, Steele’s briefings were designed to generate interest in the Dossier and secure its eventual public dissemination. Briefings were held for journalists from the New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, Yahoo News, and others in September 2016. Shortly thereafter, Yahoo News published an article by Michael Isikoff that described some of the content of the Dossier (referred to there as “intelligence reports” and “reports”), which was still being compiled at that time.1
Many other media articles reported speculative accounts of the Dossier’s existence and contents. In October 2016, Steele was interviewed by David Corn, a writer for Mother Jones, which on October 31, 2016 published an article headlined “A Veteran Spy Has Given The FBI Information Alleging a Russian Operation to Cultivate Donald Trump.”2
The Corn article stated that it had “reviewed” the early reports in the Dossier, and then quoted from those reports as well as statements made by Steele in the interview. The public dissemination of the Dossier’s content had begun in earnest.
7. In addition to cultivating media interest, the Defendants also organized or approved a meeting in Great Britain between Steele and David Kramer, a director of a private foundation led by U.S. Senator John McCain. The purpose of that meeting was to brief Kramer on behalf of Senator McCain, who at the time was an outspoken critic of Trump’s candidacy. Subsequently, in November 2016, Defendants provided a copy of the Dossier’s first sixteen reports, including the Report that falsely accused and defamed Plaintiffs, to Kramer for redelivery to Senator McCain.
8. As the 2016 presidential election neared, both print and online media in the United States and abroad began to expand their coverage of the Dossier and its alleged content. That coverage only intensified after Trump won the election. On January 10, 2017, one of those media entities, BuzzFeed, Inc., published the entire Dossier on the Internet, describing it as “explosive.” The copy of the Dossier that BuzzFeed published included the false and defamatory allegations about the Plaintiffs and Alfa, along with an article entitled “These Reports Allege Trump Has Deep Ties to Russia.”3
The Dossier misspells Alfa’s name throughout, incorrectly spelling it as “Alpha.” In a recent court filing, Fusion admitted that it had “pre-publication” communications with BuzzFeed about its publication.4
9. The Defendants intended, anticipated, or foresaw a high likelihood that allowing their clients and/or the media access to the Dossier’s defamatory content would result in its republication by news media outlets, including online news media such as BuzzFeed.
10. Plaintiffs seek an award of compensatory and punitive damages for the harm to their personal and professional reputations, current business interests, and the impairment of business opportunities that resulted from the blatantly false and defamatory statements and implications about them published by the Defendants and republished by BuzzFeed and countless other media around the world.