Ben Smith, the Buzzfeed editor who published the unverified Steele dossier that ended up being the basis for FISA warrants to spy on Trump team members, has been hired by the NY Times.
WashingtonExaminer reports The BuzzFeed editor who published unverified and salacious allegations about President Trump’s relations with Russians is moving to the New York Times.
Ben Smith released a statement on Tuesday confirming he is leaving BuzzFeed in March, after which the 44-year-old will become a media columnist at the New York Times. His statement mentions Trump and Russia but does not discuss the dossier.
Smith, who joined BuzzFeed in late 2011 after writing for Politico, stirred controversy with the January 2017 decision to publish British ex-spy Christopher Steele’s dossier, a 35-page collection of reports about Trump’s ties to Russia, including allegations that the Russians had a video of Trump with prostitutes urinating on a bed in a Moscow hotel room.
The dossier circulated among government officials and multiple media outlets, most of which declined to report its contents without verification.
In publishing the dossier, BuzzFeed News acknowledged that it had not confirmed the claims it contained but reasoned that it was 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.”
Smith has stood by the decision to present the dossier to the public, even after special counsel Robert Mueller’s report undercut elements of Steele’s reporting.
“At the time we published it,” he told Vanity Fair in April, “effectively everyone in the country, except for the broad public, had already seen it — intelligence officials, members of the press, politicians, large sections of the Washington chattering class. It had also been briefed to two presidents of the United States. That all stands up incredibly well, and there’s no doubt that this was an extremely important document in American history.”
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