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Political journalists and news outlets are scrutinizing Buzzfeed for publishing an annex from a U.S. intelligence report that contained admittedly unconfirmed and salacious allegations against President-elect Trump.

On Tuesday night, CNN reported that federal intelligence agents had briefed Trump on claims that the Russian government held compromising financial and personal information on the president-elect.

Buzzfeed followed up by publishing what it said was the actual intelligence report. It contained several lewd and detailed allegations that the Kremlin possessed recordings of “perverse” behavior Trump supposedly engaged in while in Russia.

The Buzzfeed report conceded that it had not confirmed the veracity of the allegations, a stunning admission that flouts the traditional journalistic norm of withholding publication of potentially damaging information that is in doubt.

Buzzfeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith published an internal memo to his staff on Twitter wherein he said that posting the intelligence document was “not an easy or simple call” and he said there was “serious reason to doubt” the claims it contained.

He said, however, that he errs on the side of publishing information that appears newsworthy.

Some in the news industry pounced on Buzzfeed for publishing the report at all, given that it was admitted unconfirmed and anonymously sourced.

(The source of the information reportedly came from an anonymous former British intelligence officer who in turn got his information from anonymous Russian sources. CNN reported that intelligence officials had not verified his accusations but consider him credible.)

Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple said Smith’s reasoning for publishing was “ridiculous.”

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“[I]t is unverified — meaning that it requires further investigation,” wrote Wemple. “BuzzFeed has started that process and pledges to continue pursuing it. So why post the documents now?”

Glenn Greenwald, the journalist who had a big hand in the Edward Snowden leaks, said Tuesday on Twitter, “An anonymous person, claiming to be an ex-British intel agent & working as a Dem[ocratic] oppo[sition] researcher, said anonymous people told him things.”

Wednesday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” co-host Mika Brzezinski said, “What’s the viewer supposed to think right now, especially watching the news agencies that are actually reporting this? I just think everyone needs to take a step back. It’s irresponsible. It’s incredibly irresponsible.”

The intelligence documents and their claims have also reportedly been bouncing among news outlets and journalists for some time, but were deemed by many to be unpublishable without corroboration from reliable sources.

New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet said that was the case for his paper.

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“We, like others, investigated the allegations and haven’t corroborated them, and we felt we’re not in the business of publishing things we can’t stand by,” he told the Times.

A Washington Post report on the documents said, “Dossiers compiled by the former British intelligence official have been circulating in Washington for months. Several news organizations, including the Washington Post, have been attempting to confirm many of the specific allegations without success.”

Reporters at Politico said nearly the same thing.

“Yes, the memo that CNN reported on and the memo that BuzzFeed later posted is salacious,” said Politico’s morning Playbook tip sheet on Wednesday. “The information is also mostly unverifiable. Many news organizations — including Politico — heard these allegations a few months back. We couldn’t get anywhere on them.”

Veteran NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw said Wednesday morning on MSNBC that he had heard of the allegations four months ago but that he had been unable to “close the book on it.”

Trump himself has denied the allegations and has regularly pushed back against intelligence assessments that the Russian government interfered with the election with the intention of getting him elected.

On Twitter, he called the report “fake news” and said it’s all part of a “political witch hunt.”

“Russia has never tried to use leverage over me,” he said in another tweet. “I HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH RUSSIA – NO DEALS, NO LOANS, NO NOTHING!”

And in an interview Wednesday morning on MSNBC, Trump’s chief of staff Reince Priebus said Buzzfeed’s report was “total, complete garbage.”

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