BuzzFeed’s reflexive defense of The State overall, and Obama’s government specifically, targeted the wrong person this week. Usually the left-wing snark site is battling the right on The Government’s behalf. But this time it was filmmaker Michael Moore, and BuzzFeed wasted no time in going after him with a piece that would eventually require a ton of back-filling and one major correction.
In BuzzFeed’s original post pushing back against Moore’s claim he had to “rescue” Palestinian filmmaker Emad Burnat (who flew into town to attend Sunday’s Oscar ceremony) from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, BuzzFeed’s Tessa Stuart noted twice at the beginning of her post that “multiple” anonymous sources claimed Moore lied about the incident.
The only problem is that Stuart did not have “multiple” anonymous sources. She had only one. Naturally, a story is going to look more credible with “multiple” sources as opposed to one. Eventually, BuzzFeed did correct the article. But according to the Huffington Post, they were “forced” to make the correction only after being caught.
You would think that a major site like BuzzFeed being caught manufacturing anonymous sources would be seen throughout the media as something of a scandal. After all, this is beyond bias or getting something wrong.
There has been some fallout. The Atlantic, The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald (who suggested BuzzFeed Politics’ editor-in-chief was a coward for staying silent) the Huffington Post and the Washington Post’s Erik Wemple pulled no punches.
But there’s also been a loud silence coming from the likes of those who in the recent past have had a lot to say about the use of anonymous sources. As of now, and other than a brief mention on Twitter or a throwaway link, media luminaries such as Slate’s Dave Weigel, Politico’s Dylan Byers, and the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent haven’t written a single word critical of claiming you have multiple anonymous sources when you have only one.
It makes one wonder what the rules are.
I guess if you’re protecting Obama’s government, there are no rules.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC