The Media’s Risky Love Affair With Leaks

In January, BuzzFeed News published a dossier full of sensational and unverified claims compiled by a former British intelligence agent,which described extensive connections between President Trump and the Russian government. Trump responded, as expected, with a tweet. He placed one particular word in suggestive, dismissive quotes: “Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to ‘leak’ into the public.” Setting aside the dossier’s contents, Trump understood that its status in the public eye depended in part on what it was called. Seen as a piece of opposition research, or a political prop, or a plant, the dossier loses some power. Seen as a leak, however, the dossier seems more likely to be true.

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