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‘Hardball’ Panel Skewers BuzzFeed, ‘It’s Certainly Not Journalism’

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<p>Claws came out Wednesday night on MSNBC&rsquo;s <em>Hardball</em> as host Chris Matthews aired a half-hour long special dedicated to digging into the absurdity of BuzzFeed News publishing &ldquo;<a href="http://www.newsbusters.org/blogs/nb/nb-staff/2017/01/11/mrc-president-b… fake news</a>&rdquo; regarding President-elect Donald Trump. Matthews, who is known for his own <a href="http://www.newsbusters.org/journalists/chris-matthews">outrageous statements</a>, seemed incredibly disturbed by the whole situation. He at one point declared, &ldquo;<strong>It&rsquo;s certainly not journalism. I&#39;m not sure what it is.</strong>&rdquo;</p>

<p>He argued that, &ldquo;<strong>Even if you deal in opinion journalism, which I do as well, you have to deal with a fact-based mentality.</strong>&rdquo; His point was that even political pundits try to stick to a code of, &ldquo;<strong>&rsquo;I&#39;m never going to say something on the air I don&#39;t believe is true. At least from my perspective.&rsquo;</strong>&rdquo; (Which raises a whole load of other questions about statements he&rsquo;s made in the past, but that&rsquo;s another story.)</p>

<p>Matthews then accused <em>BuzzFeed</em> and their Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith of publishing the material for the amusement of Trump&rsquo;s opponents:</p>

<blockquote>
<p><strong>But to put out a barrel of stuff that&#39;s marked as &ldquo;disinformation&rdquo; for the public to sort of enjoy, for the enemies of that particular person, Trump, to giggle over and try to exploit, and enjoy generally and say, &ldquo;This is my day,&rdquo; is not&mdash;It&rsquo;s certainly not journalism. I&#39;m not sure what it is.</strong></p>
</blockquote>

<p>Radio host Hugh Hewitt agreed with Matthews and slammed BuzzFeed for conducting what he called &ldquo;<strong>clickbait McCarthyism.</strong>&rdquo; &ldquo;<strong>I called Ben Smith this morning, I woke him up, he wouldn&#39;t come on my program to discuss it because it really is indefensible,</strong>&rdquo; Hewitt recalled to the panel. He also hammered Smith&rsquo;s organization for destroying a news cycle that contained important information on how Trump would separate himself from his business as President:</p>

<blockquote>
<p><strong>There was a lot of news to be made today, a lot of serious news. And what Buzzfeed did was to throw the shiny object out there, make a nefarious allegation of an inappropriate relationship with Russia which is McCarthyism for clicks. It was wrong and destroyed an important news media cycle.</strong></p>
</blockquote>

<p>Earlier in the day, <a href="http://www.newsbusters.org/blogs/nb/curtis-houck/2017/01/11/buzzfeed-ed… met with Chuck Todd</a> on <em>MTP Daily</em> and defended his organization&rsquo;s actions as&nbsp;a form of transparency for the sake of the public. &nbsp;<em>New York</em> magazine&rsquo;s Andrew Sullivan described Smith&rsquo;s reasoning as &ldquo;<strong>pathetic</strong>&rdquo; and exclaimed that:</p>

<blockquote>
<p><strong>I don&rsquo;t think it&rsquo;s what you do when you&#39;re a journalist. You do try and verify what&#39;s true and what you can really prove. There are some things you don&#39;t&mdash;you don&rsquo;t put out there &hellip; That, in fact, everything should be transparent. That everything should be out there regardless of whether you vetted it or not. We have a job. Our job is to figure out what&#39;s true or not&hellip;</strong></p>
</blockquote>

<p>But Sullivan asserted that BuzzFeed&rsquo;s real victim was journalism because their fake news gave Trump ammunition to use against the press. &ldquo;Trump is trying to create a post-truth environment in which he can just bewilder us and disorient us so the truth, itself, is the victim,&rdquo; he insisted.&nbsp;</p>