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White House

Does the New York Times Believe BuzzFeed ’s Scoop?

Buzzfeed‘s story that President Trump directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about his dealings in Russia would appear to be textbook obstruction . . . if true.

When a big story like this breaks, there are usually two stages: the “pickup” and the “match.” The Washington Post has run a bunch of “pickup” stories: “Trump Reportedly Told Michael Cohen to Lie,” etc. Behind the scenes, it’s red-alert, all-hands-on-deck time: The WaPo desperately wants to match the story, in other words talk to its own sources and confirm that the BuzzFeed story is in fact true. At which point the WaPo can remove the “reportedly” disclaimer and run a story saying, “Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress.” Deep within the story it would then presumably acknowledge that the facts first emerged in BuzzFeed.

The New York Times‘ response has been not what I would have expected. So far, on its site, the only indication I can find that the Times even acknowledges that the BuzzFeed story exists is this Associated Press story, which doesn’t even pop up on the main page or the politics page. (Meanwhile, the last time I looked at the WaPo page, four of the top five stories were related to the BuzzFeed scoop.) The Times political reporters have of course been burning up the phone lines trying to match BuzzFeed‘s story. (And ace reporter Maggie Haberman alluded to the BuzzFeed story on Twitter last night.) But in the meantime you would expect them to at least run a big story on the homepage saying, “Report claims Trump directed Cohen to lie to Congress.” They haven’t done that. To me that says the New York Times is skeptical about either this story in particular, or BuzzFeed in general, or both.

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