BuzzFeed editor defends publication of dossier

BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith defended the website on Wednesday against allegations that it published a controversial opposition research dossier claiming ties between the Trump campaign and Russia out of partisan favoritism.

In a combative interview with Fox News's Tucker Carlson, Smith said that BuzzFeed made the call to publish the dossier because of the reported weight law enforcement and intelligence officials placed on the document, noting that the FBI briefed President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump claims media 'smeared' students involved in encounter with Native American man Al Sharpton criticizes Trump’s ‘secret’ visit to MLK monument Gillibrand cites spirituality in 2020 fight against Trump’s ‘dark’ values MORE himself on the matter.

He also said that the dossier provided important context for understanding the ongoing investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. 

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"The dossier is a document of kind of obvious central public importance," he said. "It's the subject of multiple investigations by intelligence agencies, by Congress. That was clear a year ago. It's a lot clearer now."

Carlson, however, argued that BuzzFeed published the document too early, before certain information that would have helped put the dossier in context came to light.

The Fox News host also argued that BuzzFeed would not have published the document had it been about a Democrat, like former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaObama puts out call for service on MLK Day: ‘Make a positive impact on the world’ Trump, Pence visit MLK Memorial Trump offers to limit his border wall to strategic locations MORE.

"If it was being briefed to the president, absolutely," Smith responded. 

The dossier was commissioned in 2016 by the private research firm Fusion GPS and compiled by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele. It contains salacious and unverified allegations against Trump and his associates.

The dossier reportedly circulated among political journalists during the 2016 campaign. BuzzFeed published the document in January 2017, shortly after the U.S. intelligence community made public its assessment that Russia sought to interfere in the election.

Russian meddling and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow have become the subjects of multiple congressional investigations and a special counsel probe. Trump has denied allegations that his campaign coordinated with the Russians and has called the investigations a "witch hunt."

Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinGraham angers Dems by digging into Clinton, Obama controversies Debate builds over making Mueller report public BuzzFeed story has more to say about media than the president MORE (D-Calif.) on Tuesday released the transcript of a Senate Judiciary Committee interview with Glenn Simpson, the co-founder of Fusion GPS, in which he defended the dossier against claims of partisan influence.