And now, for Buzzfeed’s Urinetown

Readability

And now, for Buzzfeed's Urinetown

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,

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.

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,

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.