February 6, 2017 Last Updated 1:24 pm

BuzzFeed faces lawsuits over Trump dossier; Techs sign on to court filing fighting travel ban

Morning Brief: TNM will end commenting, a rarely used feature of the site – except by comment spammers – as publishing professionals seem reluctant to voice their opinions

This has been a long time in coming: TNM is ending reader comments. The move comes as another flood of comment spam has targeted the website – though, to be honest, this rash of new spam is pretty light compared to previous ones. Nonetheless, the default here will be comment turned off.

The reality is that readers really don’t use the comments function much here. This is not unusual for a B2B website about publishing, I notice that few other sites get many comments, either. The exception are those sites dedicated exclusive to the book publishing industry, where professionals appear to feel more free to speak their minds. I fear newspaper and magazine pros remain pretty tight lipped… except on social media.

So, if you want to comment on a story I recommend either communicating directly through the Contact page, or via Twitter, where you can continue to reach me @talkingnewmedia.



BuzzFeed is being sued by Aleksej Gubarev over including his name in their story on the Trump dossier. While other news organizations mentioned he existence of the dossier, BuzzFeed went further and published details. It appears that it will cost them some legal fees.

CNN, Jose Pagliery:

Russian tech exec sues Buzzfeed for publishing unverified Trump dossier

A Russian technology executive has sued BuzzFeed and its editor Ben Smith for publishing the unverified Trump dossier, calling it “perhaps one of the most reckless and irresponsible moments in modern ‘journalism.'”

Within hours of the lawsuit’s filing, BuzzFeed blacked out the name of Aleksej Gubarev in the dossier on its site and apologized.

“We have redacted Mr. Gubarev’s name from the published dossier, and apologize for including it,” BuzzFeed spokesman Matt Mittenthal told CNNMoney.

Aleksej Gubarev is the CEO of XBT, a company that hosts websites and runs thousands of computer servers worldwide.

McClatchy DC, Kevin G Hall David Goldstein and Greg Gordon:

BuzzFeed sued over its publication of uncorroborated Trump dossier

“The dossier included libelous, unverified and untrue allegations regarding XBT, Webzilla and Gubarev. The lawsuits seek yet undetermined compensation for the damages suffered by XBT, Webzilla and Gubarev as the result of the publication of the dossier,” a statement said.

New York-based BuzzFeed Inc., which published the dossier in full on Jan. 10, wasn’t alone. Former spy Christopher Steele and his company Orbis Business Intelligence in London were named as defendants in the London suit…

…The dossier said XBT and affiliates “had been using botnets and porn traffic to transmit viruses, plant bugs, steal data and conduct ‘altering operations’ against the Democratic Party leadership.”

The British lawsuit against Steele and Orbis Business Intelligence Limited charges that they “deliberately and without consent” claimed that the plaintiffs had hacked into the emails of the Democratic Party, “and had used such unlawful access to transmit viruses, plant bugs, steal data and alter files and programs.”



What to make of the musical chairs going on at Meredith – just the usual reshuffling, or something more? I’m torn, and usually don’t pay much attention to these editorial personnel moves. But the emphasis of the publisher position – or its outright elimination – means that more and more the identity of any given title resides solely with the editor. Now, with that position shifting around, it feels as though many magazines are flailing around, without direction. This will only encourage more shutterings, not prevent them.

NY Post, Keith Kelly:

Meredith Corp. loses top execs amid cuts

Among the changes, Cheryl Brown, who was the editor-in-chief of Allrecipes, told The Post she is moving to the top spot at Family Circle. That follows the ouster of FC’s longtime editor, Linda Fears, this week.

Jennifer Darling is moving from the special interest publications group at its Des Moines, Iowa, headquarters to run Allrecipes.

As noted in Media Ink, Siempre Mujer, a magazine aimed at Hispanic women, is dropping print to go all digital. As a result, Jessica Torres, its editor-in-chief, is out.



Some of the biggest names in tech signed on to a court filing on Sunday that argued against the president’s travel ban. In addition to the big names mentioned in the NYT’s headline, Microsoft, Uber, Twitter, Airbnb, and Intel also signed on.

Interestingly, a few big names did not: Oracle, Hewlett-Package and Tesla. The first two are no surprise to me, their CEOs are clearly no friends of the Democrats, but the election of Trump, and now his first moves as president, have revealed a lot about Elon Musk of Tesla.

The New York Times, Carlos Tejada and Paul Mozur:

Apple, Facebook and Google Say Trump’s Travel Ban Would Hurt Business

In a filing to a federal appeals court dated Sunday, nearly 100 technology companies argued that Mr. Trump’s temporary ban on all visitors from seven predominantly Muslim countries would hurt their businesses and violate both immigration law and the United States Constitution. A lower court on Friday temporarily halted crucial parts of the ban, but the Trump administration said it would fight to have them reinstated.

“The tremendous impact of immigrants on America — and on American business — is not happenstance,” the companies said in a friend-of-the-court filing. “People who choose to leave everything that is familiar and journey to an unknown land to make a new life necessarily are endowed with drive, creativity, determination — and just plain guts.”

“The energy they bring to America,” it said, “is a key reason why the American economy has been the greatest engine of prosperity and innovation in history.”



It’s time. End it.

The Washington Post, Margaret Sullivan:

Cancel dinner plans. Send ‘nerd prom’ to the history books

Once merely embarrassing and ridiculous, the annual White House correspondents’ dinner is poised to tip over into journalistic self-abasement.

It’s time to stick a silver-plated fork in it.

The so-called nerd prom is a glitzy party — now a week-long blitz of related parties — in which Washington, Hollywood and New York media types schmooze it up with the public officials that some of them are supposed to cover, while looking over their shoulders to see whether Helen Mirren is really looking as fabulous as everyone says.

“The main purpose of the evening,” John Oliver once said, “seems to be providing photos of glamorous celebrities completely unaware of who they’re standing next to.”

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