BuzzFeed’s Anthony Cormier delivered a 2017 TEDx Talk at Florida State University (FSU) in Tallahassee, Florida, entitled Combating Fake News, in which he derided Breitbart News as “fake news” three times.
At the TEDx talks — an independently produced local version of the more prestigious TED talks — Cormier introduced himself as “real news” waging a good faith fight against misinformation:
I am in the fight of my life. I have been a journalist for 15 years, and what I and my colleagues are facing at the moment is a new phenomenon that I hope you will help us win because the guy you see up here right now is real news. I’ve dedicated my life to this.
Cormier framed his professional conduct as non-ideological and non-partisan:
[Fake news] is now packaged to look like mine. It is packaged to look like real news, and secondly, it’s being used as a weapon to disinform you. It’s being used as a way to get you to move to one side or the other.
Liberals, I know you’re out here. You’re probably thinking [fake news] is just a conservative matter. Uh-uh. Y’all are just as guilty, too. Breitbart is just as bad as Raw Story. Milo is just as bad as Occupy Dems.
“When we stopped having trust in objective verifiable truths, we opened the floodgates for the manipulators. … In that void, again, comes Breitbart and Raw Story and Milo and Occupy Dems,” said Cormier, lamenting Americans’ reduced trust in the news media throughout the years.
“As much as you may hate the liberal media [or] or the conservative media … we’re real human beings digging for truths day after day,” said Cormier.
Cormier disparaged Breitbart News as a peddler of misinformation: “Here’s what Breitbart doesn’t do. … They don’t run a correction. They don’t own it. I did. So my editors, my newspaper, we care about getting it right. Accountability is our tradecraft. If you don’t believe me, what do I got left?”
Cormier did not advise his audience to develop critical thinking or epistemological skills towards “combating fake news.” Rather, he advised them to “excise” what he described as “fake news” from their informational diets.
Cormier also did not challenge the pretense of news media outlets and figures marketing themselves as politically objective and neutral. He did not advise news media to be forthright and transparent with their political or partisan biases.
BuzzFeed’s founder and editor-in-chief Ben Smith regularly markets his professional conduct and that of his company as politically objective and non-partisan.
Follow Robert Kraychik on Twitter @rkraychik.