ABC seemed to be holding out hope Thursday evening on World News Tonight that BuzzFeed’s salacious accusations against President-elect Donald Trump were true. “The Russians and Trump have angrily denounced the allegations as completely false, including the unverified claim that Trump was secretly recorded when he visited Moscow,” declared Brian Ross giving the impression that the president-elect was mistaken, “Trump says he knows better than to let that happen.”
“But spies for the former KGB are famous for just that kind of blackmail tactic against foreign visitors,” Ross hyped, “U.S. officials say the Russians posted this video of an American diplomat with an alleged prostitute, complete with background music, after the diplomat refused to become a double agent.”
Ross reported that both President Barack Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden were briefed on the details of the claims, with Biden telling the press he was told, “We can't say it's not true. We can't say it is true.” Ross also noted that the source of the information, Christopher Steele a British spy, was reportedly now in hiding. Both of these pieces of information were delivered in a way as to try and add weight to the allegations.
“The cold war ended, but the Russian intelligence operations in hotels in Moscow, targeted against Americans, has never stopped,” Richard Clarke, a former National Security official told Ross.
The ABC reporter had, even more, Russian exploits to tout, including the phone tapping of an American diplomat. “Three years ago, the Russians intercepted the very undiplomatic phone conversation of a top American diplomat, Victoria Nuland, and posted it online,” he recalled
“Trump said Wednesday the Russians have nothing on him,” Ross reiterated before wrapping up his report claiming, “As for that former British spy, authorities tell ABC News tonight he is considered a trusted source who has been helpful with past FBI investigations,with both the Kremlin and Russian organized crime.”
It’s baffling to believe that ABC thought it was appropriate to conjecture that Russia had compromising information on the president-elect. By showing off Russia’s success in obtaining evidence to blackmail diplomats and then making the argument that no official has said the claims were false does just that. It could be argued that ABC was effectively gambling on the salacious accusations, published by BuzzFeed, being true.