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?
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.”