A spicy file on Donald Trump

The social news portal Buzzfeed has published a file according to which Moscow is in possession of compromising information on Donald Trump. The contents are said to come from a former British secret service officer, but they have yet to be verified. The file testifies to the information war raging over Trump's presidency, commentators say, and speculate about harsh repercussions.

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Index (HU) /

Total disorientation

In view of the Trump file put together by former MI6 officer Christopher Steele anything is possible, journalist András Dezső comments on news website Index:

“As things stand we can't take anything at face value - neither that Trump is the Russians' man nor that the information gathered by Steele is pure lies. Practically anything is conceivable right now. It must be a dreadful feeling for all those who want to know the facts. But that's the way information wars are, and this whole affair displays traits of a hybrid war, with the intelligence services playing the leading role. In fact it's even conceivable that the Russians influenced Steele's research, that they misinformed his sources and then sat back and waited for the media to take the bait.”

Le Point (FR) /

Impeachment already an issue

The inauguration of the new US head of state will take place under very critical circumstances, Le Point is quick to point out:

“Even before Trump moves into the White House, the question arises as to whether he will be impeached. For the first time in a long time commentators are once again talking about the 25th amendment to the constitution. This stipulates that in the event of an impeachment the vice-president assumes the office of president. Certainly, this won't happen in the foreseeable future. Nevertheless it is extremely rare for people to be talking about impeachment even before a president has taken office. And never before has a US president been suspected of colluding with the enemy.”

The Independent (GB) /

Nothing to do with serious journalism

When media publish unverified allegations, as in the Buzzfeed case, they are failing to fulfil their information mandate, columnist Will Gore criticises in The Independent:

“As for the wholesale dump of unverified information by others, in the interests - it is argued - of transparency, I find it hard to shake the feeling that it is in some ways a journalistic cop-out, and perhaps an overly hasty reaction to the facile attacks of the alt-right and others who wail from the rooftops (or below the line) about how untrustworthy the media is. Journalism is about reporting information, yes, but it is also about analysing and interpreting, and deciding what degree of detail it is appropriate to place in the public domain. Otherwise, we might as well just leave everything to WikiLeaks - and that way madness surely lies.”

Gazeta Wyborcza (PL) /

Trump a victim of his own methods

The whole affair shows how big a role digital half-truths are playing in politics, Gazeta Wyborcza points out:

“The post-truths spread by the social media, websites and sometimes even by Trump and his staff helped him to gain the presidency. Now he himself has fallen victim to the weapon he was so fond of using. ... Unfortunately there is no sign that he has learned his lesson and sees post-truth as a two-edged sword that he should refrain from using against his enemies. Buzzfeed is just another episode in an information war that is taking on ever greater proportions in the digital world.”

Público (PT) /

Aggressiveness is only a mask

The new US president's reaction to the Buzzfeed revelations at his press conference on Wednesday is a major cause of concern in Público's eyes:

“Trump has displayed the same arrogance and aggressiveness that got him into the White House. It was an alarming spectacle from a democratic country that happens to be the most powerful nation in the world. If it had been the latest episode in a drama series it could still have been described as excessive. But no, this is the new reality, and we have to get used to it. … What is truly dangerous is the degree of instability that the elected president appears to display. The tone Trump adopted was worrying, and his arrogance has mainly served to mask his insecurity and superficiality rather than to mark his position. … We await the next episode in the hope that the scriptwriter won't be too excessive - for the sake of global stability.”

Postimees (EE) /

Just like in a spy thriller

The report reveals a lot about the methods employed by the secret services and top-level politicians, Postimees observes:

“According to statements made to Newsweek and Reuters by US officials, the official intelligence report presented to President Barack Obama and president-elect Donald Trump also contained the unproven claim that Russian intelligence services are in possession of compromising information about Donald Trump. The 35-page report must be seen for what it is: without further evidence we have no way of knowing which of the statements are true and which aren't. Nevertheless it gives the public an enthralling insight into how the world of top-level politics and the secret services work.”