BuzzFeed News was sent fraudulent National Security Agency documents alleging collusion between a member of the Trump campaign and the Russian government, making it the second news outlet to reveal that it was the apparent target of a hoax attempt.
BuzzFeed’s Chris McDaniel said that his outlet received a fake NSA report that appeared to be the same as one sent to MSNBC host Rachel Maddow last month. (RELATED: Someone Sent Rachel Maddow Fake NSA Documents Alleging Trump-Russia Collusion)
“It was very clearly a fake,” McDaniel said of the document on Twitter late Friday.
On Thursday, Maddow gave a “heads up” to other news outlets about what appeared to be a forged NSA report that was sent to her show through an email tip line last month.
The document, Maddow said, alleged that a specific member of the Trump campaign cooperated with the Russian government to influence last year’s election. Maddow said she believes that the person who sent the document hoped to undermine her show as well as reporting on the ongoing investigations into potential Trump campaign collusion with Russia.
In a series of tweets, McDaniel confirmed that BuzzFeed received the same records.
He said that the document used as a template a legitimate NSA document published last month by The Intercept. On June 5, that outlet published an NSA report about Russia’s attempts to infiltrate state voting systems prior to the election. The document was allegedly stolen by a 25-year-old NSA contractor named Reality Winner.
Maddow was sent the document on June 7, two days after The Intercept published its report. McDaniel did not say when BuzzFeed received its forgery.
Maddow noted on her show that the document she received appeared to be based on the document leaked to The Intercept.
McDaniel said that the tipster initially accidentally sent a copy of The Intercept document. After the outlet followed up, the person sent the same document that was given to Maddow.
He said that BuzzFeed will not publish the document “because we don’t want anyone to manipulate it further.”
McDaniel’s characterization of the forgery is notably different from Maddow’s.
Whereas McDaniel said that the document was “not a well done forgery,” Maddow called it “a fairly convincing fake.”
“Somebody, for some reason, appears to be shopping a fairly convincing fake NSA document that purports to directly implicate somebody from the Trump campaign in working with the Russians in their attack in the election,” Maddow said.
“This is news,” she said, “because: why is someone shopping a forged document of this kind to news organizations covering the Trump-Russia affair?”
Maddow’s report prompted pushback from The Intercept co-founder Glenn Greenwald. In an article at the site, he took issue with Maddow’s insinuation that it was possible that the document she received had been forged prior to The Intercept’s publication of the legitimate NSA report.
If that scenario were accurate, it would raise the possibility that someone from The Intercept sent the forgeries to Maddow’s show. But Greenwald noted that metadata from the fake document shows that it was likely taken from the legitimate NSA document published on The Intercept website.