Ben Smith Gives Buzzfeed the OK to Call Donald Trump a Racist by the Forward

Ben Smith Gives Buzzfeed the OK to Call Donald Trump a Racist

Image by Getty Images

Buzzfeed editor-in-chief has spoken: calling Donald Trump a racist is no longer a breach of journalistic integrity.

In a memo sent out on Tuesday, Smith told his staff that they are henceforth permitted to refer to Donald Trump as racist — as fact, rather than opinion — on social media.

According to Politico, the memo was released after several staffers inquired about whether or not calling out Trump in those explicit terms was a violation of Buzzfeed’s non-partisan policy when it comes to news. (As Politico rightly points out, the Entertainment section enjoys looser restrictions.)

Smith wrote that Trump “is operating far outside the political campaigns to which those guidelines usually apply.”

“It is, for instance, entirely fair to call him a mendacious racist, as the politics team and others have reported clearly and aggressively: he’s out there 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,” he added.

Smith, who is Jewish, has since posted the entire memo to his Twitter page:

Other media outlets have made similar judgment calls when it comes to the rogue candidate. Earlier this summer, The Huffington Post symbolically placed coverage of Trump’s campaign in the Entertainment section. On Monday, Ariana Huffington reversed that decision, explaining that due to the candidate’s negative statements about women and minorities, he could no longer be considered entertaining. Huffington also declared that staffers would be allowed to call Trump racist or sexist if his actions or speech warrants it.

“If Trump’s words and actions are racist, we’ll call them racist,” she wrote. “If they’re sexist, we’ll call them sexist. We won’t shrink from the truth or be distracted by the showmanship.”


Anne Cohen

Anne Cohen

Anne Cohen was the Forward’s deputy digital media editor. When she’s not looking for the secret Jewish history of Voodoo in New Orleans, or making lists about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, she writes for The Assimilator. She graduated from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism with an M.S. magazine concentration in 2012.

Ben Smith Gives Buzzfeed the OK to Call Donald Trump a Racist

Your Comments

The Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. All readers can browse the comments, and all Forward subscribers can add to the conversation. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Forward requires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not and will be deleted. Egregious commenters or repeat offenders will be banned from commenting. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and the Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

Ben Smith Gives Buzzfeed the OK to Call Donald Trump a Racist

Thank you!

This article has been sent!