The media has run countless pieces based on leaks from Team Muller and their assorted pals. And framed them as coming from anonymous sources. BuzzFeed's story looked no different. It claimed to have inside info from Team Muller and was based on anonymous sources.
The difference is that this time around, and quite unusually, Team Coup decided to shoot down its reporting.
Mueller's people weren't doing Trump any favors. Shooting down the fake news was a strategic move to protect its own movements.
BuzzFeed had gambled and lost. Its hacks had flown too close to the sun and came down with singed feathers. A lesser fake scoop would have passed without a Mueller rebuke. But with the usual clickbait business model collapsing, BuzzFeed shot the moon.
And is sticking with it.
P.S. My email exchange with BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith:
How can you stand fully behind your reporting when Mueller says it's at least partly wrong?
We literally don't know what the special counsel is referring to.
Should someone lose their job if you or the reporters were wrong in accusing the president of a felony?
And I'm not going to speculate.
Smith said in a phoner with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow: "This is a line of reporting that has been repeatedly vindicated."
BuzzFeed is sticking with it, because really, why not?
It didn't do anything that the Washington Post and the New York Times don't do on a semi-regular basis. The difference is that it didn't have the access and had too much chutzpah.
Why should BuzzFeed apologize for being bigger hacks than the other hacks? When fake news is the default mode, does it matter how fake the news is?