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How BuzzFeed Dedicated 9/11 to Non-Stories

How BuzzFeed Dedicated 9/11 to Non-Stories

On the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks on American soil, news of attacks against Americans overseas created a social media firestorm — except on a site dedicated to trendsetting in social media.

Ben Smith’s BuzzFeed Politics has written exactly one story on today’s Middle East chaos — the storming of the U.S. embassy in Egypt; the burning of the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, leading to an American death; President Obama’s snub of Benjamin Netanyahu in favor of a David Letterman appearance. 

Author Jessica Testa’s article, “U.S. Embassy In Cairo Condemns Hurting Muslims’ ‘Religious Feelings,'” has been retitled for BuzzFeed’s front page as “President Obama Gets Compared To Jimmy Carter,” shifting the focus of the story to conservatives’ response rather than the events themselves.

In contrast, BuzzzFeed Politics has published five articles on Mitt Romney’s words commemorating 9/11 in the same day:

  • Romney: “The World Is More Dangerous Now Than It Was Before 9/11”
  • Romney Has Given Two Version [sic] Of His 9/11 Experience
  • Romney Recounts Where He Was On 9/11
  • Mitt Romney Said 9/11 Gave The 2002 Olympics Deeper Meaning
  • Mitt Romney And Barack Obama Reflect On Where They Were On September 11th

The headlines are presented in reverse chronological order. As the day went on, the coverage became more negative. No followup was made to Barack Obama’s 9/11 campaign activity, which included posting an attack ad to his Youtube channel and the airing of a pre-recorded interview with DJ Laz, the “Pimp with the Limp.”

BuzzFeed gave as much coverage to these topics as today’s violence against the United States:

  • Kris Kardashian on the Today Show
  • Mitt Romney losing the “expectations game” for October’s presidential debates
  • The “8 Most Eccentric High Dollar Donors” of the 2012 election
  • Paul Ryan’s name still being on Wisconsin ballots for his seat in Congress
  • Barney Frank “doubling down” on his “Uncle Tom” label for gay Republicans
  • Senator Lindsey Graham cursing
  • 9/11 Truthers (this topic has now exceeded the embassy/consulate story with two articles)
  • Republicans’ divide on same-sex marriage
  • Ann Romney not attending a summit
  • Republicans not passing a new farm bill

The first — and featured — story BuzzFeed published Tuesday was titled “Barack Obama’s Plan To Use National Security To Beat Romney,” written by Michael Hastings, the BuzzFeed reporter who caused controversy with anti-gay remarks against a former Romney foreign policy adviser.

The promotion of this particular op-ed may gave insight into why BuzzFeed Politics failed to adequately report the day’s show of widespread foreign anger towards America and its government.

Smith is a former employee of Politico and member of Ezra Klein’s defunct “Journolist,” where journalists coordinated efforts killing media narratives that could hurt the popularity of Barack Obama.


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