Back in 2001, Urinetown premiered on Broadway,
Urinetown is an hilarious musical satire of the legal system, capitalism, social irresponsibility, populism, bureaucracy, corporate mismanagement, municipal politics and musical theatre itself! is an hilarious musical satire of the legal system, capitalism, social irresponsibility, populism, bureaucracy, corporate mismanagement, municipal politics and musical theatre itself!
Of course, sophisticated New Yorkers loved it and it won three Tony Awards, three Outer Critics Circle Awards, two Lucille Lortel Awards and two Obie Awards. (You can watch the whole thing on YouTube, but I don’t recommend it.)
Fast-forward 15 years and Buzzfeed’s version of Urinetown premieres shortly before President Obama’s farewell address: Buzzfeed releases a document alleging kinky sexual behavior by Donald Trump on a trip to Russia (which involved hiring prostitutes to urinate on a bed Pres. Obama had slept on), and that Trump has a close relationship with Russia due to that compromising information. Ian Miles Cheong has a pretty good summary of the allegations.
Which brings to mind The Big Lebowski,
I just want to understand this, sir. Every time a rug is micturated upon in this fair city, I have to compensate the owner?
Buzzfeed’s Ben Smith also tweeted this at the time,
— Ben Smith (@BuzzFeedBen) January 11, 2017
In Smith’s own words, his organization released an “unverified” report, of which “there is serious reason to doubt the allegations.”
David French finds all of it disturbing
This is ridiculous. How can “Americans make up their own minds” when they have no ability to fact-check the allegations? The public knows nothing about the sources, nothing about the underlying claims, and has no means of discovering the truth. Buzzfeed admits that “there is serious reason to doubt the allegations.” It’s been using its journalistic resources trying to verify the claims for “weeks” and hasn’t been able to. But “Americans” can somehow do what Buzzfeed can’t? This isn’t transparency; it’s malice.
John Podhoretz, hardly a Trump supporter, asserts that Buzzfeed’s Trump report takes ‘fake news’ to a new level (emphasis added)
There is literally no evidence on offer in these memos or from BuzzFeed that any single sentence in these documents is factual or true. What’s more, we know most major news organizations in America had seen them and despite their well-known institutional antipathy toward Trump, had chosen not to publish them or even make reference to them after efforts to substantiate their charges had failed.
BuzzFeed tells us that “the document was prepared for political opponents of Trump by a person who is understood to be a former British intelligence agent.” Indeed, the memos are designed to read as though they were cables sent from the field to the home office. And they should set off the bull detector of every rational person who reads them.
I’ve been a newspaper and magazine editor for 31 years, and like many in my profession, have had occasion over the course of four decades to work with people linked to intelligence agencies both domestic and foreign when they are retailing stories injurious to one or another politician or cause.
In my experience, there is no source of whom you need to be more skeptical, and whose information you need to verify to the letter before you can even begin to think of publishing it, than an “intelligence” source.
Now we’ll see the effects of Buzzfeed’s micturition of a seriously doubtful “report:” The discrediting of a President-elect, the waste of taxpayer money on investigations, hearings, and whatnot, and continued attacks from Dem sore losers; worst of all, a possible undermining of the electoral process.
Welcome to Buzzfeed’s Urinetown.
Fausta Rodríguez Wertz posts on U.S. and Latin America at Fausta’s blog.