On Tuesday, Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s senior attorney, made an announcement that shocked the media, stating he filed two lawsuits. The first suit, filed in federal court, was filed against the ‘investigative’ firm Fusion GPS. The second suit, filed in a New York state court, was against the ‘news’ site, BuzzFeed.
Both suits had similar complaints concerning reckless actions, however, stating that both organizations disseminated a dossier containing ‘false and defamatory’ claims about President Donald J. Trump. Both complaints also alleged that both BuzzFeed and Fusion GPS, in presenting these defamatory statements as ‘fact,’ did “harm to his personal and professional reputation, current business interests, and the impairment of business opportunities.”
Both of these lawsuits concern the infamous dossier that Fusion GPS essentially bought from a former British intelligence agent, and the ridiculous and outlandish claims made by that document. That report, released shortly after the presidential election season, was bandied about by various mainstream media outlets looking to find SOMETHING, ANYTHING that they could use to stop President-Elect Donald J. Trump from taking the seat of the presidency from Hillary Clinton.
The federal lawsuit against Fusion GPS alleges that the ‘investigative’ organization “recklessly placed [the salacious dossier concerning Donald Trump] beyond their control and allowed it to fall into the hands of media devoted to breaking news on the hottest subject of the day: the Trump candidacy.” The suggestion is that Fusion GPS, which was originally hired by a Republican candidate before being paid by the Democrat Party, pushed the unverified dossier out to liberal media outlets hoping that it would be disseminated further, undermining President-Elect Trump’s campaign.
The New York state lawsuit filed against BuzzFeed, which names Ben Smith (BuzzFeed’s top editor) and three other employees, claims that “even though Defendant Buzzfeed expressly acknowledged the unverified (and potentially unverifiable) nature of the Dossier’s allegations, Defendant BuzzFeed published the un-redacted Dossier and the Article anyway — without attempting to determine the veracity of these reports with Plaintiff himself.” Once again, the implication is that BuzzFeed, acting as a propaganda arm for the Democrat National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign, published defamatory information with no evidence that it was true.
Many Democrats hoped that the information in the dossier, even though unverified and often erroneous, would be enough to stall or prevent the confirmation of President Donald J. Trump. Though it failed in that respect, the Trump-Russia dossier served as the basis for launching the special investigation into alleged ‘Russian ties’ and ‘Russian collusion’ with President Trump.
— Michael Cohen (@MichaelCohen212) January 10, 2018
Michael Cohen has particular reason to be offended by the claims of the dossier and its dissemination by various organizations. The document included a claim that Cohen traveled to a secret meeting with ‘top Kremlin officials’ in Prague in August 2016, as the election season was nearing its end.
Michael Cohen has repeatedly stated that this account is completely false. Indeed, Cohen has never been to Prague, or to the Czech Republic at all, and he has stated as much repeatedly, saying “I have never been to Prague or the Czech Republic, and I have never engaged with, been paid by, paid for, or communicated with anyone representing the Russian Federation or anyone else to hack anyone or any organization or disseminate false news reports or interfere in any way with this election.”
BuzzFeed’s response to the allegations was to say that even though the dossier is without evidence to back it up and was purchased to be a political tool to undermine the Donald Trump campaign, it is still newsworthy because it is the basis for the farcical Mueller investigation that continues to drag on. In other words, because it is ‘in the public interest,’ it is newsworthy, and even though it is libelous they are allowed to print it.
BuzzFeed’s presentation of the article even suggests that they know it is not truthful and is likely unverifiable, as they posted it to their website with a note stating that the “allegations are unverified, and the report contains errors,” and continuing on to say that “Americans can make up their own minds about allegations about the president-elect that have circulated at the highest levels of the U.S. government.”
Freedom of the press is important, and the right to question or criticize political leaders is the very crux of the concept of the First Amendment. Indeed, there is ample evidence that when the First Amendment was penned by the nation’s Founding Fathers, it was intended to protect political speech most of all.
However, there has to be a middle-ground between being able to publish complete nonsense about politicians and being unable to publish anything about them. Sadly, it does not sound like this lawsuit will establish a better standard.
Though Michael Cohen likely knows that there is little to no chance of BuzzFeed facing any serious consequences, it will be interesting to see what the discovery process turns up concerning BuzzFeed’s decision to run the report, as well as how they attained it. The discovery process may well provide a perfect showcase of the leftist media bias against President Donald Trump.