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Media in various Stages of Grief over collapse of Buzzfeed Trump/Cohen story

Media in various Stages of Grief over collapse of Buzzfeed Trump/Cohen story

Mostly Anger and Bargaining, with only Buzzfeed still stuck in Denial.

We’re about to get hit by an ice storm, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

Seriously, I did.

In Brooklyn.

MSNBC was playing on the TV in the breakfast room this morning. [Featured Image above.]

It was like attending a wake. As if a member of the family had passed unexpectedly. Imagine the whispered dialogue among mourners: “He was so young, and held so much promise.” “He will be missed, but we will never forget him.” “He’s not with us physically anymore, but his spirit lives on.”

The mourning was over the collapse of the Buzzfeed’s “if true” bombshell report that Trump directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress.

That report was what #TheResistance media had been waiting for since Trump first rode down the escalator at Trump Tower. We’ve got him now! The walls have finally collapsed! Lock.Him.Up.

And then the unthinkable happened. They didn’t see it coming.


“BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the Special Counsel’s Office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s Congressional testimony are not accurate.”

We detailed the collapse in Mueller disputes Buzzfeed story on Trump directing Michael Cohen to lie to Congress.

Now the media is in various stages of grief.

As a reminder, the Kübler-Ross model of the Stages of Grief are:

1. Denial — The first reaction is denial. In this stage individuals believe the diagnosis is somehow mistaken, and cling to a false, preferable reality.

2. Anger — When the individual recognizes that denial cannot continue, it becomes frustrated, especially at proximate individuals. Certain psychological responses of a person undergoing this phase would be: “Why me? It’s not fair!”; “How can this happen to me?”; ‘”Who is to blame?”; “Why would this happen?”.

3. Bargaining — The third stage involves the hope that the individual can avoid a cause of grief.

Usually, the negotiation for an extended life is made in exchange for a reformed lifestyle. People facing less serious trauma can bargain or seek compromise.

4. Depression — “I’m so sad, why bother with anything?”; “I’m going to die soon, so what’s the point?”; “I miss my loved one, why go on?”

During the fourth stage, the individual becomes saddened by the mathematical probability of death. In this state, the individual may become silent, refuse visitors and spend much of the time mournful and sullen.

5. Acceptance — “It’s going to be okay.”; “I can’t fight it, I may as well prepare for it.”; “Nothing is impossible.”

In this last stage, individuals embrace mortality or inevitable future, or that of a loved one, or other tragic event. People dying may precede the survivors in this state, which typically comes with a calm, retrospective view for the individual, and a stable condition of emotions.


Buzzfeed in in denial. Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith continues to insist the story is correct, and there will be more to come.

Buzzfeed also is aggressively going after Mueller’s rebuke, providing emails to The Washington Post between Buzzfeed and Mueller’s office. Read the WaPo story, released tonight. It’s not helpful to Buzzfeed:

“People familiar with the matter said after BuzzFeed published its story — which was attributed to “two federal law enforcement officials involved in an investigation of the matter” — the special counsel’s office reviewed evidence to determine if there were any documents or witness interviews like those described, reaching out to those they thought might have a stake in the case.

They found none, these people said. That, the people said, is in part why it took Mueller’s office nearly a day to dispute the story publicly….

People familiar with the matter said the special counsel’s office meant the statement to be a denial of the central theses of the BuzzFeed story — particularly those that referenced what Cohen had told the special counsel, and what evidence the special counsel had gathered.”

Buzzfeed doesn’t appear to be aware of the First Law of Holes.


A lot of the media is angry.

Not that Buzzfeed ran with the report, but that Mueller’s rebuke makes the media look bad.

The people who pushed the story relentlessly for almost 24 hours, are angry this may tar the entire industry:

“The larger message that a lot of people are going to take from this story is that the news media are a bunch of leftist liars who are dying to get the president, and they’re willing to lie to do it,” Toobin said. “And I don’t think that’s true.”

“I just think this is a bad day for us … It reinforces every bad stereotype about the news media,” he added.

“Reliable Sources” host Brian Stelter agreed with his latter statement but said as a media reporter, he was “desperate” for his audience to judge individuals and brands on a case-by-case basis.

“Don’t fall for what these politicians out there want you to do. They want you to think we’re all crooked,” Stelter said. “We’re not.

Chris Cuomo also is angry, because Mueller just did Trump a favor:

“Mueller didn’t do the media any favors tonight, and he did do the president one, because as you saw with Rudy Giuliani and as I’m sure you’ll see with the president himself, this allows them to say, ‘You can’t believe it. You can’t believe what you read, you can’t believe what you hear, you can only believe us,'” he said. “‘Even the special counsel says that the media doesn’t get it right.'”

Chuck Todd is pretty upset also.


Rachel Maddow, and MSNBC generally, is in the bargaining phase. BUT HE’S STILL A BAD MAN! Don’t stop trying to impeach him just because Buzzfeed may have screwed up, and anyway, maybe Buzzfeed’s report is false but accurate! RUSSIA RUSSIA RUSSIA!

It took Maddow 10 minutes to conclude “Happy Two Years of the Trump Administration” before turning to Ben Smith, who defended the story.

See what she did there? Mueller’s rebuke of Buzzfeed becomes an afterthought.

Others in the media are trying to frame Mueller’s rebuke as not really substantive, just a quibble with Buzzfeed over wording.

Glenn Greenwald pretty succinctly summed up the idiocy of that defense:

The steadfastly mute Robert Mueller decided – after 1 1/2 years – to speak out & explicitly deny a major news report because he just had a few trivial, semantic quibbles with some ancillary claims. That there are journalists pushing that bullshit exacerbates the initial debacle.


It’s coming. But not until November 2020 if Trump wins. Until then, the media is too focused on taking out Trump to allow for depression.

But when it happens, it’s going to be brutal. It will make November 2016 look tame in comparison:


[You must be new around here.]


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I think this is absolutely the funniest post I’ve ever read here. Bravo, Professor Jacobson! Bravo!

    JusticeDelivered in reply to Anonamom. | January 21, 2019 at 6:58 pm

    “The people who pushed the story relentlessly for almost 24 hours, are angry this may tar the entire industry:”

    Apparently the industry does not realize that they already have no credibility.

Prof., you chose a great framework for your fine post. Thanks

This is me, with my gloating face on. These people have been drinking their own kool-aid, and they just do not understand why the rest of the country is disgusted with them and laughing at them.

As I recall, there once was a time when Ben Smith actually had some integrity. He has talent. To his own denigration, his talent has been squandered in a market where credibility does not matter.

If the byline is BuzzFeed, I Don’tBother. The same with anything from CNN, MsNBC or, for that matter, most of the media fomenters.

Being registered to vote in Massachusetts has only been a liability of being stuck with jury duty. I intend to “unregister” to vote and get off the Essex County victim list as my vote matters nothing and there is no conservative representation in the State of Massachusetts.

Let them feast on themselves, I will no longer remain a hostage of irrelevance.

    ConradCA in reply to NotKennedy. | January 19, 2019 at 10:31 pm

    Didn’t Mass elect a Republican senator in 2009?

    DINORightMarie in reply to NotKennedy. | January 19, 2019 at 11:24 pm

    Don’t un-register. I feel the same way, living in VA (not nearly as blue as MA but sadly on that trajectory). But I live by the truth that you must always do what is right, including voting since we have the blessing and privilege still to vote our conscience in the USA.

    I also hear Churchill’s rally cry, “ Never give in! Never give in!! Never, never, never!

      I sympathize with NotKennedy. As Mark Steyn has noted: sometimes societies become too stupid to survive. In deep Blue states I feel the cancer that is progressivism has metastasized to the point that recovery is impossible. Going through the motions of voting (when there is zero chance that the progressive establishment will allow a non-progressive to win) will only help progressives to maintain the fiction that they are running a legitimate operation.

        They solved the problem of having people registered for another party for appearances sake, running the risk that on rare occasion those people might actually win. The Jungle Primary system makes sure only the Socialist-Democrats will survive to the General, and they ultimately aim to expand that system to every election.

      Fiftycaltx in reply to DINORightMarie. | January 20, 2019 at 7:31 pm

      Too bad, but your only option if you live in a slave state like New Germany, New Yawk or Calipornistan is to move to a free state and do everything you can to keep that state free. It appears Oregon and Washington state have followed the socialist yellow brick trail and are lost. This will probably be true for the next generation until that which cannot continue doesn’t continue any longer. Stock up on guns, ammo and cash.

“The larger message that a lot of people are going to take from this story is that the news media are a bunch of leftist liars who are dying to get the president, and they’re willing to lie to do it,” Toobin said. “And I don’t think that’s true.”

Not to worry Toobin, we’re way ahead of you. We’ve known you’re a bunch of leftist liars for decades already.

Eastwood Ravine | January 19, 2019 at 10:14 pm

Basically, Rachel Maddow is the “Fake but accurate” stage.

I am worried about overdosing on schadefreude before the weekend is over.

Antifundamentalist | January 19, 2019 at 10:48 pm

I don’t think it really matters to them that the story isn’t true. The strategy of the mainstream media seems to be to spread enough spin, half-truths, misconstrued truths, and outright lies so that the actual facts are so convoluted that one cannot discern what is what – not that they really care about the actual truth – they want to prove to themselves that Conservatives are evil & that the confusion means they have something to hide.

Comanche Voter | January 19, 2019 at 11:24 pm

Not crooked. No way. But. “Alex, I’ll take stupid and venal for $250.”

Actually, for the MSM/DNC axis Stage 2 is the first (and only) stage. Mindless genocidal rage against even the tiniest dissent from the progressive line is the only stage I have ever seen from most journalists.

This is so awesome.

I didn’t believe it at all. It was Buzzfeed after all. Plus the media for over two years has been flinging mud at Trump and it always turns into a nothingburger.

Even Mueller who is silent on most of the media shenanigans had to step up and say, “now hold on there” and slap the media.

Catastrophic. It was a perfectly viable ball of yarn, until someone made the wrong choice, then it diverged wildly, irretrievably.

“Hi, my name is WaPo, and I’m a Trump-a-holic.”

“Hi, WaPo.”

“Since our last meeting, I’ve suffered an embarrassing relapse. I bought a half-dozen Big Macs, stacked them one atop another, then multiplied by 50 to get the real height of 300 burgers, just to embarrass Trump and out him as a liar. In my defense, 300 burgers is really only 50 feet high, not a mile high like Trump claimed. The monster. Oh, and add 6 inches if they came with extra cheese.”

“WaPo, please turn in your sobriety chip and sit down.”

    “Hi WaPo….I’m Rachel Maddow, I’m also a Trump-a-holic..!”

    “Hi, Rachel”…

    “Don’t lose hope, WaPo. My show will be releasing a Scandalous Exposé on the T Man tomorrow night ! This is a BIG BIG story..!
    My sources tell me…that Donald J Trump….Kicked Grandma In The Knee..!!!
    In fact, we’ll be doing a two hour special. I’ll analyze the kick, identify the knee…AND…we’ll be interviewing several grandmas for context….
    We’ve got him this time…HAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!

“Reliable Sources” host Brian Stelter is having Buzzfeed Ben on tomorrow.

Irony is dead…

“Buzzfeed doesn’t appear to be aware of the First Law of Holes.”

Second Law of Holes: Lib journalists closely resemble a certain one.

I was amazed at how the Leftist media is claiming this event as a terrible one. Yes, the story in Buzzfeed was a lie, but to them this was not the terrible part. They are all shocked by it not being true and in every analysis, either implied or stated, there is the idea that we can still get him impeached somehow.
Clearly the media migrated from information to advocacy long ago. For the longest time the media could claim otherwise, but now it is all so blatant that the media and the Left are gong to take a huge hit for this. IF they don’t then we deserve to be destroyed as a country for we have become so stupid that we don’t deserve to survive.

The DNC used the lie for the few hours it was standing to raise money. It worked for them just fine.

I’m waiting to see if Buzzfeed provides more details about their anonymous sources for this supposed leak. If it was Mueller’s office, I think they would have said so already. Giuliani is calling for an investigation of the DOJ. Either Buzzfeed jumped the gun by not vetting their sources or they just made it up.

Had the MSM not piled on with their new “if true” standard of knee-jerk attack journalism, they would have a prayer for getting out of this jam. All they can do now is clam up and hope the issue goes away. Good luck with that! Remember the Alamo! Remember the Maine! Remember Pearl Harbor!

This is actually a noteworthy change. I won’t call it “progress” since there’s no chance at all that the endpoint will be an honest Press putting out a quality product. But it is evolving. Or, rather, being battered into a slightly different shape.

It wasn’t all that long ago that DJT’s criticisms of the Press—”fake news”—were met with shrieks of outrage. The President claims the Press is The Enemy, he’s assaulting Free Speech, blah blah. The very idea that our “journalists” might have anything but the purest motives was anathema.

Now, while they still don’t admit that they’re bottom-feeding scum-suckers, they do publicly realize—and are quite miffed by—the certainty that they really do look like bottom-feeding scum-suckers. And, even worse, they know it’s all their fault. So now their job is to put on a better pretense, even if the actual end product is still nothing but slimy propaganda.

And what brought this about? Those goofy but relentless Tweets. Anybody who still thinks the Tweets prove that DJT isn’t a “serious” man needs treatment—like maybe a good round of “imagination” injections.

“Don’t fall for what these politicians out there want you to do. They want you to think we’re all crooked,” Stelter said.

“These Are Not the Droids You Are Looking For,” Obi-Wan/Ben Kenobi said.

DouglasJBender | January 20, 2019 at 8:08 am

Look, if Trump wasn’t the worst President in the history of the world, a traitorous puppet of Putin, and a greedy egomaniac on par with Hillary Clinton, there wouldn’t be so much fake news promoting any of those claims.

Mark Levin says Mueller had to dispute the claim for one simple reason, his office can’t take the risk of a real (i.e. one without a predetermined finding) investigation of the alleged leak. Such an investigation would be placing his personnel in interviews with 18 USC 1001 prosecution potential. Not that they would be at risk over this phony leak, but they would be at risk over a myriad of other leaks over the past two years.

In short: Mueller’s Merry Band had to knock this story down and kill it dead to avoid the risk of a leak investigation.

    Petrushka in reply to Edward. | January 20, 2019 at 9:24 am

    That brings up the possibility that the story might be based on a real leak, even if the content of the leak is untrue, exaggerated, or misinterpreted.

    So let us suppose there are claims on file in Mueller’s office that could form the basis of the story. Does this mean such claims can never come to light?

    The simpler explanation is that Mueller got nothing on Trump from Cohen, and referred Cohen for conventional prosecution.

“If, Maybe, Possibly, I don’t know, Might have, Cohen says, If true, Trying to understand; this is what constitutes fact in the mind of Liberal fools!

Breaking News:

Extra, Extra, read all about it…Trump plans to build a Hotel!

Buzzfeed Headline:


smalltownoklahoman | January 20, 2019 at 12:10 pm

Perhaps more of the media should have taken the professor’s advice when this story first broke and waited a while, then perhaps only Buzzfeed would have come out of this looking bad. As for that bit about the public perceiving much of the MSM as a bunch of leftist liars: that perception was already very well established long before this story broke, before Trump even started running for office. All this story and it’s quick collapse did was make them look like a bunch of DESPERATE leftist liars; eager for something, anything to take down President Trump. Not that we particularly mind when their stupidity blows up in their face! I’m still surprised it was Mueller of all people who effectively killed this story, I guess it was more of a CYA move on his part more than anything else.

Somewhat obvious that Mueller plugged his own leak. Bigger question is how much butt crack did he show while ding it.

There’s a reason Ben Smith’s parents gave his the initials BS.

The ‘media’ did not have a tizzy. The ‘democrat media’ had their usual monolithic ‘tizzy.’

PLEASE be accurate on this.

For example, media that was not in a tizzy:

Top 20 Conservative News Sites to Read in 2019:

    Partial list of ‘non-tizzy’ media:


    Fox News
    Blaze Media
    One America News Network
    Newsmax TV

    Talk radio

    The Laura Ingraham Show
    The Rush Limbaugh Show
    The Sean Hannity Show
    The Mark Levin Show
    The Savage Nation
    The Lars Larson Show
    The Alex Jones Show


    National Review
    Newsmax Magazine
    The American Conservative
    The American Spectator
    The Washington Examiner
    American Thinker


    Drudge Report
    The Daily Caller
    The Daily Wire
    Independent Journal Review
    The Gateway Pundit
    PJ Media
    Right Side Broadcasting Network
    The Federalist
    The Rebel Media
    The Washington Free Beacon
    Free Republic
    Louder with Crowder
    Breitbart News Network
    Daily Caller


    Michelle Malkin
    Hot Air
    Power Line (blog)

“The larger message that a lot of people are going to take from this story is that the news media are a bunch of leftist liars who are dying to get the president, and they’re willing to lie to do it,” Toobin said. “And I don’t think that’s true.”

No, it’s true. You know it’s true. Stop denying it.