Accuracy in Media

Rep. Jeff Van Drew, a freshman Democratic congressman from a swing district in New Jersey, has been a vocal opponent of the ongoing impeachment process in the House of Representatives. He was one of two Democratic lawmakers to indicate that they will vote against impeachment, the other being moderate Democratic Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.).

Van Drew was allegedly going to make the party switch from Democrat to Republican this coming week, which rumor led BuzzFeed News to call it an abandonment of the Democratic Party. BuzzFeed News’s headline read, “Rep. Jeff Van Drew Will Abandon The Democratic Party While The House Votes To Impeach President Donald Trump.”

BuzzFeed News’s partisan language was jarring since it portrayed Van Drew’s alleged party switch as an abandonment of a party. Instead of calling Van Drew’s party switch an abandonment, BuzzFeed News should have used more neutral and impartial wording, such as “leaving the Democratic Party” or “switching from Democrat to Republican,” to avoid a politicized, dramatic, and partisan tone.

In the same article, BuzzFeed News wrote that Van Drew represents a “longtime Republican district” and yet BuzzFeed News failed to acknowledge that if Van Drew went against his Republican constituents, he would probably lose re-election in 2020. Republican voters tend to support President Trump and disapprove of impeachment, as polling showed in recent weeks.

Historically, it is rare for politicians to switch party affiliations. Parker Griffith, an Alabama Congressman, switched from Democrat to Republican in 2009. But headlines were fairer towards him than Van Drew, with Politico’s headline read as, “Griffith faults Pelosi for switch.” HuffPost ran a story headlined, “Rep. Parker Griffith Switches Parties, Becomes Republican.” Both of these headlines were factual and less partisan than BuzzFeed News’s headline.

Overall, BuzzFeed News’s sensational headline on Rep. Van Drew’s alleged impending party switch reeked of partisan rhetoric instead of the neutral and impartial journalism that American readers and audiences desire.

Photo by HouseAgDems




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