Pressure from Commentary magazine’s John Podhoretz and others forced the correction of a BuzzFeed headline which claimed a “testy” vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan had “walked out” of an interview with a local reporter — but only after the Obama campaign had jumped at the chance to spin the story their own way, “amplifying” a few details along the way.
— Danny Kanner (@DannyKanner) October 8, 2012
Wow, Ryan walks out, storms out, and runs away all at the same time? Too bad no one caught this unhinged outburst on video. Oh wait, they did … and it doesn’t really look like what the fact checkers in the Obama camp describe at all. Weird, huh?
Ryan’s spokesman, Brendan Buck, told BuzzFeed that the reporter had already gone over his allotted time “when he decided to ask a weird question relating gun violence to tax cuts. Ryan responded as anyone would in such a strange situation. When you do nearly 200 interviews in a couple months, eventually you’re going to see a local reporter embarrass himself.”
After a lengthy Twitter exchange and some insults (and apologies), BuzzFeed changed the headline from “walks out” to “ends.” That’s closer, at least, but no cigar.
@freddoso Changed to "ends."
— Andrew Kaczynski (@BuzzFeedAndrew) October 8, 2012
Whether or not a headline change is “interesting stuff” is up for debate, but Podhoretz’ point about false memes getting started is dead on. The president’s team wasted no time making sure the original headline was spread far and wide.
1. Write false headline. 2. Tweet false headline 3. False headline gets RT'd, reddited, etc. 4. Fix headline when caught 5. Tweets remain.
— Cuffy (@CuffyMeh) October 8, 2012
So it works something like this?
For now, the BuzzFeed headline has settled on “Paul Ryan Gets Testy And Ends Interview.” No rush from Team Obama to correct the record, though. Weird, huh?