As some media outlets try to change the way they cover Donald Trump following his call for the U.S. government to stop admitting Muslims into the country, Buzzfeed has decided that it is fair for its reporters to call Trump a racist on social media.
The memo was in response to several Buzzfeed journalists, who asked if expressing their opinion on Trump would violate the company’s ethics guide. That guide tells reporters and editors to “refrain from commenting in a partisan way about candidates or policy issues.”
Smith’s memo reads:
“The goals of this policy (which is stricter with BuzzFeed News staff) are twofold: To preserve our readers’ confidence that we can be fair; and to not needlessly undermine the work of reporters on the beat. And in that context, Trump is operating far outside the political campaigns to which those guidelines usually apply.
“It is, for instance, entirely fair to call him a mendacious racist, as the politics team and others here have reported clearly and aggressively: He’s out there saying things that are false, and running an overtly anti-Muslim campaign. BuzzFeed News’s reporting is rooted in facts, not opinion; these are facts.
“Our coverage reflects the facts of his campaign, and you aren’t going to get in trouble for stating them on Twitter. I would, though, steer away from suggesting his views are those of all Republicans or conservatives; Dick Cheney condemned him yesterday, for instance.”
This is a shift for Buzzfeed, which had previously made sure that its reporters did not take political stances. For example, in October, when editor Rachel Zarrell tweeted her support for gun control, she later apologized, notes Gawker.
After Trump’s comments on Monday, the Huffington Post also changed its policy on Trump. The site had been covering Trump in its Entertainment section, but will no longer be doing so. Whenever they cover Trump’s campaign though, they will be linking to past stories on his other controversial comments.
The New York Daily News also went after Trump on Wednesday with a political cartoon on its front page.
— New York Daily News (@NYDailyNews) December 9, 2015