“BuzzFeed Plays Nice with Rubio, Attacks Once Back Turns,” writes Ezra Dulis at Big Journalism:
You know the story: frog carries scorpion across river. Frog tells scorpion, “Don’t sting me or we both drown.” Scorpion stings frog. Frog asks scorpion why. Scorpion says, “It’s my nature.”
Senator Marco Rubio sits down with Ben Smith of BuzzFeed Politics Tuesday evening for an exclusive video interview streaming live online. Rubio draws viewers—much more than “watch BuzzFeed reporters talk to each other” would, at least. BuzzFeed offers beer. Rubio talks; BuzzFeed stings Rubio.
No, really. This was the primary takeaway from the interview, the big featured headline at the top of their Politics page:
Dulis has a screencap of BuzzFeed’s Headline: “Marco Rubio Not Concerned About Climate Change In Florida,” and as Dulis adds, another headline that reads, “Marco Rubio: LGBT Protections Should Not Be ‘Central Issue’ In Immigration Reform.”
At Ace of Spades, contributor John E. notes, “BuzzFeed Kneecaps Its Own Interview:”
First, Rubio never actually said that climate change “didn’t concern him”. In fact if you watch the interview, he probably ventured a little too close to accepting the “consensus” of man-caused AGW for most on the right. The other two headlines are in no way representative of the seriousness of some of the major issues that they discussed or how well he performed. Either their reporters’ penchant for chasing the clickable and linkable headlines (undoubtedly a BuzzFeed tactic) led them in this direction or it was a deliberate attempt to undermine Rubio himself (an oft-discussed complaint).
I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt on this one only because it would be a monumentally stupid move to torpedo your own interview series out of the gate and essentially warn every Republican media and campaign manager to immediately hang up the phone when the invitation to appear comes. This might seem like a bit of an overreaction to a couple of stupid headlines, but BuzzFeed has very little margin for error here.
They have done some cleaning up since last night and worked in some straight-reporting commentary on the interview and the event itself, both on their site and on Twitter. Unfortunately, I think the damage has already been done. I was not expecting BuzzFeed to take some remarkable turn in a rightward direction after this interview. I did, however, get the idea that Smith was excited about the prospects of the series and was looking forward to bringing on some of the right’s upcoming stars.
Perhaps self-admitted member of the JournoList Ben Smith simply BenSmithed himself with this one.