BuzzFeed is out with a story today attacking the conservative Washington Free Beacon for Alana Goodman‘s recent stories on Hillary Clinton. Their featured analyst for the story is lefty watchdog Media Matters founder David Brock — who just so happens to be a longstanding, vocal, militant supporter of Hillary Clinton.
Is this all feeling rather warm and cozy and incestuous?
Eight minutes after BuzzFeed hit publish, Media Matters hit with their own open letter from Brock swiftly attacking the Washington Free Beacon for its Hillary coverage. In the BuzzFeed story, Brock spoke of an advisory that hadn’t yet been released. He essentially said he knows what slimy oppo research is because he was once the kind of slime that dug up dirt on the Clintons in the 1990s.
Coincidence? Or do we have strange bedfellows in our midst?
Today’s story by Ruby Cramer reports that the Washington Free Beacon hired an opposition researcher to dig up info for two blockbuster stories on Clinton — one, “The Hillary Papers,” involving intimate thoughts Hillary made to one of her now deceased best friends, Diane Blair, and more recently, a story about Clinton once defending a man she believed was guilty of raping a 12-year old girl. Both stories bore Goodman’s byline.
Cramer called the stories a “legitimate hard-to-find commodity.” In fairness, she pays them cushy compliments. She writes that they “lit up the internet” and “ensured the Free Beacon a place whose reporting makes them impossible to ignore.”
But then she gives Brock, a staunch Clinton loyalist who runs a website to attack perceived Clinton enemies, seven paragraphs to attack the ethics of the Washington Free Beacon having hired a GOP opposition researcher.
Reporters using opposition researchers isn’t that strange, is it? BuzzFeed‘s Andrew Kaczynksi, a former opposition video researcher, highlighted Cramer’s story, saying on Twitter, “Don’t really see an issue here, news is news.”
Unlike BuzzFeed‘s more measured approach, Media Matters today published a banner denouncing the Washington Free Beacon: “The Free Beacon’s Unethical Practices,” it blares in bold black. Inside is Brock advising the media of the Free Beacon’s “unethical practices.” His biggest point of contention is that “The Free Beacon’s ‘reporting’ fails to disclose that The Free Beacon paid a Republican opposition research firm for the information it falsely published as its own journalistic work from the University of Arkansas tapes.”
The Mirror asked Cramer and BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith if they went to Brock as a key analyst in Cramer’s story because they see him as a de facto spokesperson for the Clintons. I also wondered if the stories were a coordinated effort. Another interesting incestuous twist here is that Katherine Miller, BuzzFeed‘s Politics Editor, previously worked for Washington Free Beacon.
Smith declined to comment. A Media Matters spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment.
The Free Beacon’s managing editor, Sonny Bunch, laughed off Media Matters’ attacks. “The very idea of MMFA lecturing anyone, anywhere about ethics or bias strikes me as patently absurd, no?” Bunch said via email.
BuzzFeed‘s story questioning the Washington Free Beacon’s ethics sprung up after a weekend piece in Business Insider by Hunter Walker, which revealed that the Washington Free Beacon obtained the tapes of Hillary Clinton talking about the child rape case through Shawn Reinschmiedt, the oppo researcher. The story reports that the Washington Free Beacon did not fill out and sign the proper forms to publish the information from the University of Arkansas Libraries concerning Hillary Clinton.
It’s tough to say if BuzzFeed‘s story by Kramer and that of Brock was part of a coordinated effort. But according to a Daily Caller report from 2012, a former Media Matters employee insists BuzzFeed‘s Ben Smith “will take our stories and write what you want him to write.”
At the time, Smith went on Twitter and declared that he has been critical of Media Matters. (Related: Inside Sources at Media Matters Reveal Reporters They Leaked To)