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In defense of BuzzFeed's 'geeky,' yet 'icy' McKay Coppins

Image source: Donald Trump's Facebook page

This is getting into a terrible patch of weeds but some things about the war waging between Donald Trump's team (now with the enthusiastic support of Breitbart News) and BuzzFeed reporter McKay Coppins need to be addressed.

Credit: CNN Credit: CNN

The short of it: Coppins was given extensive access to Trump to write a lengthy profile which turned out mostly favorable -- TheBlaze Blog called it "glowing" for its plentiful details on Trump's glamorous lifestyle -- despite questioning the game show host's motives in perpetually pretending to run for office. Trump, who never misses an opportunity to lash out on Twitter at his mildest and obscurest critics, didn't like Coppins's piece. He reportedly fired Sam Nunberg, the political aide who facilitated the meeting between Trump and Coppins, after its publication last week.

The whole thing cumulated in a rebuttal (a generous term) Tuesday at Breitbart News with outrageous accusations against Coppins.

A taste:

“I don’t know how to say it—he was looking at me like I was yummy,” recalled Bianka Pop, a hostess at Trump's Florida resort, almost a month later. She was one of a number of people, including Trump, who said Coppins behaved unprofessionally there. ...

“I remember him being a little bit nasty, and he was coming on toward me, but I put him off immediately,” she said. ...

“I was told that one of the staffers who was watching us being served by a female waitress was extremely upset to see that McKay was staring at the waitress when her back was towards us,” Nunberg said. “They didn’t like being looked up and down. I felt so about his behavior had to apologize for McKay,” he added.

The piece, written by Breitbart's Matt Boyle, essentially serves as an open forum for Trump and Co. to throw out wild claims regarding Coppins, who's in his mid-20s. To rub them in nicely, Boyle colors the piece with insults about Coppins's appearance.

Coppins is described in the piece by Boyle as "geeky"; with "wire-rimmed" glasses (those same glasses are later described as "medium-thick rimmed"); "quiet, reserved and nervous;" "awkward" (though somehow "icy" as well); with a "choppy bleach blonde haircut"; and having an "oversized forehead."

Readers of the piece are basically expected to believe that this geeky, icy man who is also nervous and reserved, came on to women while visiting Trump's Florida resort. With his wife and baby at home in New York.


For my part, I've met Coppins somewhere around 10 times between 2012 and now. Though we've never had a sleepover to braid each other's hair and chat while drinking hot cocoa, my impression of him has been nothing close to any of those things.

Yes, he does wear glasses, has blonde hair (styled like an ordinary white guy, parted on the side) and maybe a somewhat large forehead but he's not awkward nor icy. He's congenial. He's not geeky, unless that means smart (his work is well-regarded in media circles). And I've certainly never seen Coppins so much as side-eye another woman in public, let alone look at one like she was "yummy."

There was one bit, however, from the Breitbart piece that seemed to indicate some professional neglect by Coppins. It referred to part of Coppins's Trump story, wherein he wrote that at a Donald speaking engagement in New Hampshire, he was the only national news reporter in attendance.

Boyle at Breitbart wrote of that: "Notably, well-respected Los Angeles Times reporter Mike Memoli, who works much of the time from the U.S. Capitol, filed a piece about the speech datelined from Manchester, New Hampshire. Reuters' Boston bureau chief interviewed Trump ahead of the speech and wrote about it, leading with discussion about whether he would run for president. The Associated Press was thereCNNCBSPolitico and the Boston Globe all wrote it up."

But let's take these one by one. The Los Angeles Times is not a national newspaper (Memoli would affirm that). The Reuters story was written based off a phone interview between the reporter and Trump (the reporter wasn't actually at the event). The Associated Press was not there for the event, though its story about it was filed from the same city (the AP story is a type of pre-notice that the event would take place, not a story of what actually happened at it). CBS used Reuters's same story. As for CNN, Politico and The Boston Globe, those are write-ups about it from a distance. None of their reporters were actually there, save one report for the Globe who wrote a separate story not linked to by Boyle (and still, the Globe isn't a national publication, either).

How much worse can this whole thing get?

Correction: This post initially stated that no reporters from The Boston Globe attended a January speaking engagement by Donald Trump in New Hampshire. One reporter from the Globe did attend the event.

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