Attorneys for the plaintiff in a Russia dossier lawsuit are pressing a federal judge to force BuzzFeed to reveal the source of its unverified claims.
The reason for the argument by Russian tech executive Aleksej Gubarev’s lawyers is that BuzzFeed is not a real news organization.
According to CNN:
In court papers filed Wednesday in Florida federal court, attorneys representing Aleksej Gubarev and his companies tried to prove that BuzzFeed does not qualify for the reporters’ privilege that would allow it to avoid naming its source because it is not “a newspaper, news journal, news agency, press association, wire service, radio or TV station, network, or news magazine.”
As such, the plaintiffs argue, BuzzFeed does not qualify for the privilege under a 1998 Florida law.
The attorneys argued that writers at BuzzFeed “could win the Nobel Prize for literature and still not qualify for protection” in Florida.
The filing contends that Buzzfeed editor Ben Smith is not covered either because he is technically not employed by a news organization.
“Anyone paying attention to current events would be surprised by this claim, given the string of massive stories BuzzFeed News has recently broken,” BuzzFeed News spokesperson Matt Mittenthal said in a statement.
“It would also come as a surprise to President Trump’s White House, where BuzzFeed News occupies a seat in the press briefing room,” he added, according to CNN. “We look forward to demonstrating that publishing the dossier – which is the subject of multiple federal investigations and was circulating at the highest levels of government – was, and continues to be, in the public interest.”
BuzzFeed and Smith were sued for defamation by Gubarev in February after publishing a dossier that contained unverified allegations linking President Trump and Russia. Last month, a Washington Post report revealed that Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee paid opposition-research firm Fusion GPS for the dossier.
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