BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief: Fair to call Trump 'mendacious racist'

Donald Trump wants to close the Internet
Donald Trump wants to close the Internet

BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith informed his staff on Tuesday that it was "entirely fair" to refer to Donald Trump as a "mendacious racist."

The designation was in line with the company's ethics guidelines, Smith explained in a memo to staff, because Trump was "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," Smith wrote.

Smith declined to comment, but tweeted out a copy of the memo late Tuesday night.

Smith's memo, first obtained by the conservative website TheBlaze, came one day after Trump called for "a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States."

Trump's policy proposal has been widely criticized by Republicans, Democrats and several members of the media, even as it has found some support among right-wing pundits like Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter.

Smith is hardly the only prominent member of the media to speak out on this subject.

In a rare editorial for NBC News on Tuesday night, veteran newsman Tom Brokaw called Trump's proposal "dangerous," arguing that it "overrides history, the law and the foundation of America itself."

Several tabloids have also responded to Trump's proposal with provocative cover images. On Tuesday, the Philadelphia Daily News ran an image likening Trump to Hitler. The New York Daily News will run a cover on Wednesday morning in which a cartoon of Trump is seen beheading the Statue of Liberty.

Still, Smith's memo is the first instance of a major media outlet condoning the use of the word "racist" to describe the Republican presidential hopeful.

In the memo, Smith wrote that he had received questions from staff about whether calling Trump a liar and a racist violated BuzzFeed's editorial guidelines.

Smith explained that while "reporters and editors should refrain from commenting in a partisan way about candidates or policy issues," Trump was "operating far outside the political campaigns to which those guidelines usually apply."

"Our coverage reflects the facts of his campaign, and you aren't going to get in trouble for stating them on Twitter," Smith wrote.


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