Buzzfeed offers up feeble defense of its anti-Michael Moore story; Updated

Last week, Michael Moore claimed that he helped free Palestinian director Emad Burnat, who has been detained by Customs officials at Los Angeles International Airport.

BuzzFeed’s Tessa Stuart attempted to debunk that story yesterday, citing “sources” (sic) at LAX who said that Burnat was detained only because he could not initially produce an Oscars ticket when asked. According to Stuart’s reporting, Burnat was released immediately upon finding his ticket. In other words, the release had nothing to do with Moore’s intervention.  (Stuart speculated that the whole thing was a publicity stunt to gin up talk about Burnat’s movie, Five Broken Cameras.)

In response, Moore said Buzzfeed got its story completely wrong: Burnat could not have produced an Oscars ticket as Stuart’s source claimed because the tickets had not been made available yet.

Buzzfeed has not posted a correction about the Oscars ticket that apparently did not exist. It did, however, run a correction stating that Stuart had only one source, not multiple sources as she falsely claimed in both her article and on Twitter.

Now Buzzfeed has run another story about the matter. The new story cites logs showing that Burnat was detained for only 23 minutes, not 1 1/2 hours as Moore claimed:

But while there is nothing in the log to contradict Burnat’s account or his gratitude to Moore for leaping to his aid, the document does suggest that Moore overstated, at least, the length of the incident. The filmmaker’s tweets originally drew complaints from an airport official that Moore was overhyping a routine, and relatively brief, incident. That account, in turn, prompted Moore to accuse BuzzFeed (and presumably the source) of dishonesty.

Airport officials Tuesday agreed to show BuzzFeed the agency’s log from February 19, whose timeline appears to confirm the original source’s claim.

So Moore may have exaggerated the length of Burnat’s detention. This does not, however, address Moore’s larger point, i.e., the “Oscars ticket” Buzzfeed reported on did not exist.

Obviously, we are not Michael Moore fans here at Twitchy, but based on what we’ve seen so far, we can’t blame him for being upset with Buzzfeed’s coverage:

Time for another correction, Buzzfeed?


Schadenfreudelicious: Michael Moore and BuzzFeed continue slap-fight over LAX ‘publicity stunt’; Updated

Liberal titans collide: Michael Moore vs. BuzzFeed in Twitter death match

Buzzfeed reporter Andrew Kaczynski: Unlike lamebrain conservative media, Buzzfeed corrects its errors


Burnat responds to the Buzzfeed story:

When I arrived at LAX with my 8 year old child and wife, excited to attend the Academy Awards, the last thing I expected was for them to doubt who I am. I’m a Palestinian and a documentary filmmaker — with a valid visa. What about that made me suspicious? I was so shocked that I didn’t keep track of time but I can tell you this — the “secondary” inspection that people seem to be focusing on was definitely just that — secondary. What the whole experience added up to seemed like forever to me and my family, and I don’t understand why I’m being asked whether it was 23 minutes (it definitely was not) or more. That is the wrong question. And I think Americans should be proud that there are people like Michael Moore and so many others I met in LA who are willing to ask the right question: why was I held in the first place?

And David Wagner at The Atlantic has this:

In a lengthy phone interview with the Wire, Moore went through his text and email history and found that 40 minutes elapsed between the moment Burnat first contacted him for help and the moment Burnat let him know he’d finally gotten through customs. The log in Buzzfeed’s report has Burnat being “referred to secondary inspection” at 5:28 p.m. and then “released from secondary inspection” at 5:53 p.m. But Moore and Burnat say those entries only catch the tail end of Burnat’s interaction with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers. Overall, Moore estimated that Burnat’s entire period of detainment lasted “a little bit over an hour.”

  • AragornII

    So you’re calling the Buzzfeed story inaccurate because they referred to the filmmaker’s invitation as a “ticket”, but you’re willing to let slide the fact that everything Michael Moore said was complete bullshit?

    • Jesse Malkin

      According to Moore, the film director showed Customs officials the Oscar invitation, and that wasn’t good enough:

      On what basis do you conclude that this is “bullshit”?

      Buzzfeed has been caught in at least two inaccuracies here: (1) they overstated the number of sources used, and (2) they made up a “ticket” that did not exist.

      • AragornII

        On the basis of the fact that the filmmaker was delayed a total of 23 minutes getting through immigration, showed his invitation, and went on his way.

        Moore’s story where he places himself as a hero as the center of this drama says that he received a call from the filmmaker, then rallied the liberal troops to rush to the aid of the persecuted Palestinian, who were able to use the mighty power of Hollywood to free this political prisoner after an hour and a half of incarceration. That was all bullshit, nothing of the sort happened.

        • John (it true me am)

          Can’t we just all agree that both Moore and Buzzfeed were full of shit?

        • hartwilliams

          Try reading with comprehension in future. Your 23 minutes cite is BS, as you’d know if you had actually read the piece you’re commenting on.

  • Maxx

    So, 23 minutes is now 1 1/2 hours to Michael Moore?

    That explains his calorie counting.

  • Tangchung

    Seems Buzzfeed is right on this one. 23 minutes isn’t “detained” at the airport.
    Let the Palestinian get a temporary drivers license at California DMV, that’s a hostage crisis there!

  • Lady 12

    So much for coming back swinging…

  • grais

    Looks to me like Moore only told the embellished story because Moore wanted to be the hero of the embellished story. The guy’s a self-promoting, self-absorbed jackass with ego issues.

  • RightThinking1

    Whether Buzzfeed screwed up or not, the lead article over at HuffPo has this astounding statement: “I think it’s incredibly unprincipled to basically accuse someone like Michael Moore of being a publicity-seeking liar,….”

    That one had me rolling on the floor….

  • kenai

    My best advice to both of you, ‘Sue the lying bastard’.

  • Gumpchun

    The reason Burnat was released after nearly an hour, not 23 minutes, was because Moore and the Academy’s lawyers got in gear. Otherwise it would have gone on for hours maybe days.

    Moore and Burnat are right, Buzzfeed is wrong.

  • Platos Cave

    When I saw “5 Broken Cameras” I knew there would be some of the many who blindly support Israel who would be frantic to discredit it any way they could try.

    The snarky cynicism Buzfeed applied to Moore/Burnat somehow disappeared when Buzfeed mindlessly accepted one unnamed TSA source with a HUGE motive to cover up their oft-reported racial profiling actions, including the length of the ordeal. The length of the event is in question, but WHY is a filmmaker with a valid Visa being held at all? The main issue was the suggestion that Burnat would be sent back to Palestine and prevented from attending the awards. Moore is right, the doc was already nominated, and the Oscar votes already cast. The only motive for sensational publicity here is evident in Buzfeed’s completely unprofessional reporting without getting any backup sources.

    Actually it’s even worse, I suspect Buzfeed’s smug condescending misinformation had a blindly Pro-Israel, anti-Palestinian motive, maybe a real journalist will examine Buzfeed staff’s record on the subject.

  • LTMP

    I’m surprised that more people aren’t outraged over the fact that these “sources” stated that they were commenting anonymously because privacy laws forbid them from making comments.

    Isn’t that the bigger story here? Airport officials knowingly break law and provide misleading information to Buzzfedd to cover their asses and discredit Moore and Burnat.