In the fallout of a disputed BuzzFeed story alleging President Donald Trump directed Michael Cohen to deceive Congress on his Moscow real estate project, CNN’s Michael Smerconish said he smelled something fishy from the start.
BuzzFeed’s report Thursday, which cited two unnamed federal law enforcement sources as having indicated that the former fixer lied at Trump’s behest regarding negotiations to build one of the president’s namesake towers in Russia, soon came under question when special counsel Robert Mueller’s office said it was inaccurate.
Though he was disappointed in the story’s effect on media credibility, Smerconish said readers should have known better than to trust it.
“Too many threw their street smarts to the wind and cast their lot with this incredible story about the president,” he said on his Saturday broadcast. “No amount of wishful thinking should ever trump evidentiary analysis and critical thinking, but that’s what happened.”
A key paragraph, he pointed out, asserted that Mueller’s team learned about the president’s directive “through interviews with multiple witnesses from the Trump Organization and internal company emails, text messages, and a cache of other documents.”
“That’s when my BS meter went off,” Smerconish said regarding the paper trail.
While he didn’t doubt Trump could have told Cohen to fib, he couldn’t imagine a trove of evidence being left behind.
“Say what you will about Trump and Cohen, but I’ve got to believe they’re more sophisticated when it comes to skullduggery.”
Furthering his point, Smerconish noted a discrepancy between the accounts of the two reporters who worked on the story. One, Anthony Cormier, told CNN he had not seen the documentation with his own eyes, while the other, Jason Leopold, claimed he had.
″That’s when everybody’s BS alarm should’ve been blinking red,” Smerconish said. “It didn’t pass the smell test!”
In the end, he pointed out, the real victims of the story are journalists themselves rather than the president, who has since been able to tout the controversial report as a sign that the media is not to be believed.