The leading organization of journalism educators has invited a representative from one of the most troublesome publications as the keynote speaker for its annual convention.

Craig Silverman, the media editor of BuzzFeed, will be featured this week at the convention of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.

AEJMC describes Silverman as an “internationally renowned expert on verification and fake news.” His big story was locating pro-Trump websites in Macedonia that produced fake news. Trump has nothing to do with the websites. But I guess if you can get Trump and fake news in the same paragraph, you get a lot of page views and a lot of buzz.

What AEJMC fails to mention is the problematic role BuzzFeed plays in today’s media landscape. Moreover, it is one of the least-trusted news organizations, according to a recent survey by the University of Missouri. BuzzFeed’s credibility is less than Breitbart, Donald Trump, Rush Limbaugh, and The Blaze. In fact, Occupy Democrats, which really isn’t a source of news and information, is the only website in the survey that ranks lower than BuzzFeed.

But back to Silverman. Just a few weeks after he joined the “news” organization, BuzzFeed published the memo that alleged Russia had a dossier with which it could blackmail President Trump.

BuzzFeed published the document without any attempt to verify its claims, which have led to the continuing onslaught of Russia nonsense. I don’t intend to repeat the scandalous and unverified claims from the 35-page document.

Ironically, Silverman ignored whether his own publication dealt in fake news. Editor Ben Smith defended the January release of the salacious document. “We thought that it was important when you have a blanket claim like he was compromised by Russian intelligence to share the details,” Smith said. “I think we are trying to best inform our audience, to be true to our audience, to treat our audience with respect.”

Having spent many years doing investigative reporting, I was appalled by this statement. To simply put information into the public space—irrespective of whether it was true or false—does not qualify as journalism to me. The actions of BuzzFeed demonstrated its role as a gossip monger.

But such is the niche of BuzzFeed in today’s journalism environment. The organization is best known for its animal memes, lists, and quizzes. It is a media darling because it makes money, mainly because the organization closely monitors what people want to know rather than what people should know.

Recently, BuzzFeed has been trying to gain some credibility by expanding bureaus throughout the country and the world, including the creation of an “investigative” team.

Nevertheless, I am nonplussed and embarrassed that a group of journalism educators–an organization of which I have been a member for more than 20 years–would bless BuzzFeed and its antics. I have decided to skip the convention this year rather than give MY blessing to such “journalism.”

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.